Party Bikes in Rhode Island, Hard Seltzer in Utah

The liquor laws in all 50 states are changing. Though some states are embracing the need to alleviate the crushing regulatory burden faced by producers, sellers, and consumers alike, they’re moving too slowly—while others are moving in the wrong direction entirely. 

Rhode Island lawmakers, for instance, are looking at legalizing marijuana Party bikes—those oversized bicycles for a dozen or so pedalers that often feature a bartender or travel from bar to bar. These are not dissimilar to Nashville’s party buses. AboutLast year. This is great news for Misquamicut’s motel owner who spent $30,000 to buy a bike that his community had approved.“Thwarted” state motor vehicle department

“The party bike couldn’t use public streets without a license, but they had no license to give it,” the Providence Journal reportedThis week. “It is too large to be considered a bicycle and too slow to qualify as a motor vehicle.”

Alaskan lawmakers seek to “rewrite the state’s alcohol laws in a massive overhaul,” according to KTUU, a local station. reported last month. A key aspect of the reform is the “bar wars”, which have pitted Alaskan bar owners against Alaskan brewers and distillers.

They want protection from the competition of tasting rooms from state governments. This is clearly wrong. It shouldn’t be able to protect businesses from the competition. However, the government should not protect any business from competition. Hence, the proposed “wholesale rewrite” as it applies to tasting rooms—which includes underwhelming improvements such as allowing them to stay open until 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., and allowing no more than one new tasting room in communities with at least 12,000 residents—would likely come closer to maintaining the status quo than it would to improving the regulatory climate for producers and consumers in the state. It is this reason that the bill’s supporters call it a “delicate” or “grand” compromise.

There are other modifications to state laws governing alcohol. pedestrian at best. New York’s state liquor regulators have now allowed movie theatre patrons to enjoy beer, wine and cider. Two theaters upstate became the first New Yorkers to accept the practice.

“Previously, theaters were restricted to consumption inside a café area adjoining the lobby,” the Saratogian reportedIt took over a decade for this simple change to be implemented, he said. If the theatre was equipped with a restaurant, employees were not allowed to serve beverages at a patron’s seat.

New York does credit for streamlining other alcohol laws. The state recently appointed Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) AnnouncementThis week, bar owners and restaurant operators will be able online to purchase liquor licenses. She noted that this was an important modernization.

Although New York, Rhode Island and Alaska have made some progress (cue short golf clap), the states’ relatively modest deregulation moves are still quite radical compared with what is happening elsewhere. 

Utah is an example of a state that has enacted a law which prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages. Expected to be made lawThis ban will affect all hard seltzers sold in liquor shops, except for those that are marketed by Budweiser. The ban targets seltzers that contain ethyl alcohol—a common stabilizer that’s used to help flavor many seltzers and also “soda, mustard and teriyaki sauce”—which amounts to about half the hard seltzers currently sold in Utah, including ones marketed by Budweiser, Coors, Truly, and Vizzy. They will no longer be available at any state liquor store.

Alabama’s news could be as absurd as the Utah one. Private liquor stores in the state are looking to sue the liquor regulatory agency. They want to permit state-run liquor outlets to distribute alcohol. explains how the Alabama legislature authorized private liquor shops to provide some alcohol last year. This is good news. But the delivery law covers “licensees,” and the private liquor stores note the state-run stores—unlike them—don’t require licenses to operate. points out that state-run shops are not subject to local liquor or sales taxes. Alabama’s state is competing against private sellers for the same product, which means that it seems to be willing to overlook state laws in an effort to get a greater advantage.

Why does Utah and Alabama still sell alcohol?

ABC’s more than eight decades of selling liquor has been brought to you in large part by an unholy alliance of lobbyists, government bureaucrats, and religious groups—not to mention the landlords and special interests who collect millions from leasing land and providing other services to support the state’s alcohol operation,” an op-edThe state’s involvement in alcohol sales was criticised last year.

Indeed, the less government involvement in the alcohol market—from production to sales to consumption—the better off consumers and producers are. When it comes to regulating alcohol, kowtowing to special interests—including the state itself—is like putting a Kryptonite Lock on a party bike: no fun.