NH liquor head asks Legislature not to tie his hands as Maine comes after alcohol sales

Bottles of liquor wait to be sold at an Ellsworth supermarket.
Bottles of liquor wait to be sold at an Ellsworth supermarket. Buy Photo
Posted April 10, 2013, at 2:02 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — The top liquor official in New Hampshire on Tuesday asked the Legislature to avoid restricting his ability to act quickly and remain profitable as Maine considers strategies to capture more alcohol sales.

With Maine and Massachusetts making moves to attempt to be more competitive with New Hampshire, “Is this really the time to tie the hands of the most effective control state in the nation?” Joseph Mollica, chairman of the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission, asked the Senate Finance Committee.

Mollica said the proposal to limit commission’s unilateral ability to transfer money within the department is “a legislative noose that would spell the demise of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission acting like a business moving forward.”

The money-making agency projects that “we will get $600 million in sales this year,” Mollica said.

The proposal, which passed the House last month on a voice vote, would restrict the accounts from which the commission would transfer funds without approval of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee.

The bill grew out of a recommendations of a special House committee charged last year with examining the commission’s operation and structure.

Another suggestion, in a separate bill, would replace the three-member commission with a single commissioner.

Rep. Dan McGuire, R-Epsom, who chaired the special committee, said House Bill 394 would still allow the commission to make transfers of up to 5 percent of its total budget from one account to another without approval of the fiscal committee. But the accounts subject to such transfers would be narrowed down and would no longer include personnel funds.

“We kind of think that money budgeted for personnel should be kept that way,” McGuire told the Senate panel.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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