Idea: Reform the Liquor Laws

Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?

From Garlynn:

* Hard liquor sales would be allowable at any location (store, restaurant, pub or tavern) where beer and wine is sold, for an additional fee (non/prohibitive, just reflective of the additional profit to be made).

* This fee would go directly into funding for both general education and substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs.

* Bars, pubs & clubs would lose the limitation on operating hours. Rather than mandate that all liquor/beer/wine sales stop at 2:30am, there would be a Chicago-style mandate that, somewhere within the 24 hours of the day, alcohol sales must stop for 4 hours. This would allow danceclubs & nightclubs to set their own hours. New research suggests that, if people are allowed to stay at a club until they're ready to go home, rather than leave when the liquor control commission says so, they're less likely to have a last round at last call, finish it, then jump in their cars and drive. Also, this could encourage more of the "creative class" to consider Portland (& the rest of Oregon) a happening place where they can play as hard as they work, thus preventing brain-drain and attracting qualified in-migration to the state.

Discuss.

[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Garlynn,

    You're quite the idea machine. I'll sign up for this one, unlike your other let's-just-let-crimminals-get-away-with-things-idea.

    I'm not sure about the part where you think by letting bars stay open all night, that this will attract a lot of bright creative class type people, and this will be a good thing.

    But I'm all for liberalizing drug laws and taxing them and using the money for education and substance abuse programs in general.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Former Salem lawmaker Mark Hass tells the Oregonian lobbyists run Salem, which is why he split so suddenly.

    So, Garlynn, lobbyists flattened Hass. What makes you think they will ever lose a fight in Salem because they haven't lost in the 20 years I have lived here.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    D'ya think letting the bars stay open all night will make the creative class more or less creative?

    It's fine with me, as long as they aren't in my neighborhood.

    Does the state raise more money from Garlynn's idea than from the state-run liquor stores?

  • (Show?)

    I'd like to make an addition--

    I've seen many cities add on a requirement that food be served at all times that alcohol is served. If this isn't already a requirement, it should be.

    I don't really drink (and even less now that I've had my gallbladder out, as I hear it can cause problems). As such, I've visited very few bars here in Oregon. But I know I've gone into bars in the evening, only to find out they'd stopped serving food.

    As far as the creative types goes...

    Many of us are night owls. We sleep in late and are awake long after the city goes to sleep. As such, their evening's just beginning when the bars and clubs are closing.

    We've got to get out of structuring our society around people working M-F 8-5, because it just isn't true anymore. More and more people working evenings, graveyards, etc. A lot of people working in creative fields start work in the late afternoons, going into the nighttime hours.

    Allowing this would give all those people who work outside the "normal" work hours to be able to enjoy themselves too.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    "New research suggests that, if people are allowed to stay at a club until they're ready to go home, rather than leave when the liquor control commission says so, they're less likely to have a last round at last call, finish it, then jump in their cars and drive."

    Some "old" research - mine - tells me different. I lived in Alaska for awhile, which had much longer hours of operation. People just drank more, and got plowed. Ever see drunk drivers on ice! Not a pretty picture.

    Alcohol remains the second most abused drug we have in America after tobacco. (Second in terms of all social costs including medical, accidents, lost time at work, damage to families, etc.) Yes, government can make more "profit" off of this drug trade, but is that good social policy? More access to alcohol flies in the face of decades of work to use taxation to decrease consumption.

    I am not for prohibition, but for a responsible social policy. If alcohol is made more widely available at increased hours, then some of the money generated should go to the Oregon Health plan to offset the increased medical costs, some to law enforcement for increased problems in that arena, and to corrections for more County jail spaces. We then should spend even more of the revenue generated from alcohol taxes on treatment and prevention.

    Garlynn suggests that then there would be money left over to fund education. Wrong on one count, poor policy on another.

    First, after the increased social costs as noted above, there would be less money available from State funds, not more.

    Second, it is poor policy to fund a "fixed" cost from a variable revenue source. The pre-Measure 5 situation where we funded education from the more stable property tax was well founded thought. The post-Measure 5 dependence upon the variable income tax is a core reason we are having the funding problems we have today with education. An increased tax or increased revenue on alcohol to fund education would be another level of variability to education funding. What if a health craze got going that involved being alcohol free? What if some nasty chemical was found in all beer and wine? What if a lab rat died while drinking? You never know what the future will hold with social trends that would effect consumption of alcohol. Therefore, you can never accurately predict the revenue from alcohol.

    Besides, do you really want to set the stage for a kid to hear his semi-drunken mother or father say, "Hey kid, I'm drinking this one for your education?"

  • (Show?)

    We're already doing this with gambling, of course.

  • So bored with the Left (unverified)
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    C'mon, Jack, you ought to know by now that intellectual consistency has no place on this site.

  • (Show?)

    So Bored,

    In order for your oneliner to be taken seriously, you need to show that every single poster and every single regular commenter is intellectually inconsistent. Good luck with that one.

    If there is one poster or regular commenter that is inellectually consistent your statement is false.

    <hr/>

    Want to reword your comment? Or are you just another troll:?

  • cow (unverified)
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    right on... could not agree more with these ideas. don't think the additional funding should be seen as a 'fix' for anything, but in a tax-clmiate like oregon's additional 'user' fees are going to be the only way to increase or get new funding for anything. i would be happy to pay a 'convenience' fee to purchase booze at a grocery store. also, the libertarian side of oregon politics should like the change in club hours. now if we could do anything else in this vain, let's ban smoking in bars!

  • nepdx (unverified)
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    I agree with Garlynn about the late nights. The problem of alcholism will always be with us, no matter how late or early the bars close.

    One rule in Oregon that irritates me is one that automatically assumes any drinking where children are present is bad. To wit, I can't go to a McMenamin's and watch a movie with my son, be he 12 or 19. Does the state think we don't have wine or beer at home with our children around? Of course, I take the same teenager to New York and they serve him everywhere, which is fine with me. Drinking responsibly is the lesson. (It was Reagan who forced New York to switch to a 21 age limit, and they still don't like it.) Our state is over the top on alcohol control.

  • Justin (unverified)
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    Damn straight.

    Also, lets have 24-hour transit service - or at least later at night (1 or 2 am would be nice!) so drunk people can get home without taking a cab (few do) or driving. I'd say most Toyota/BMW/Subaru/Mercedes drving crowd aren't going to walk the 3 miles from the bars to their house late at night with their friends/SOs.

  • Justin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In Portland, food is already a requirement if they are serving alcohol.

    Also, I believe the city should have authority to limit hours of bars/restuarants/clubs - this really should be an issue of local control, as there are many local neighborhood bars that would really piss of neighbors if they stayed open 24 hours.

    However, in certain areas - downtown, NW Portland - it would be nice sometimes.

    =)

    ==========================================

    Speaking of funding methods, I've got a great one:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/newslogs/oregonian/index.ssf?/mtlogs/olive_oregonian_news/archives/2006_03.html#117041

    Kill the kicker. Corporations will get back $205 million alone this year, enough to pretty much plug every funding hole the state needs plugging. Oh, and... its not like the tax rate would be increasing; they only actually have to pay the rate that has already been set!

    HELLO?! I swear I don't even remember voting on this stupid 2001 law...

  • So bored with the Left (unverified)
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    "If there is one poster or regular commenter that is inellectually consistent your statement is false...Want to reword your comment?"

    No, I think it holds up pretty well, thanks.

  • Garlynn (unverified)
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    Steve Bucknum doesn't take issue with the idea itself, it appears, but rather my suggestion that it might lead to increased overall tax revenue, and one of my suggestions as to how that additional revenue might be spent.

    In general, I'd like to thank all of you who posted useful, relevant comments on this topic. I think the time may be ripe for alcohol policy/law reform in Oregon, and I think Jenni Simonis sums up why this may be a good thing in terms of making the state a more attractive environment for the creative class to dwell within:

    "Many of us are night owls. We sleep in late and are awake long after the city goes to sleep. As such, their evening's just beginning when the bars and clubs are closing.

    We've got to get out of structuring our society around people working M-F 8-5, because it just isn't true anymore. More and more people working evenings, graveyards, etc. A lot of people working in creative fields start work in the late afternoons, going into the nighttime hours.

    Allowing this would give all those people who work outside the "normal" work hours to be able to enjoy themselves too."

    This proposal seeks to, at its core:

    • Encourage nightlife by expanding the allowable hours of operation. I agree with the poster who said this should be decided on a neighborhood level -- 24-hour clubs might be OK in downtown Portland, the Pearl, the inner SE industrial area, and maybe downtown Eugene, downtown Corvallis and possibly downtown Ashland. It probably won't be very useful to most of the rest of the state. However, the rest of the state might reap the benefits (increased taxes, potential healthier economy) caused as by-products of implementation of this proposal.
    • Encourage the creative class to... be creative. Staying at work until midnight to work on a proposal, or a project, means that going out and blowing off steam until 4am sounds like a pretty good idea sometimes. Especially if it's a good party! If you're not familiar enough with this vague group called the "creative class" to know that this proposal is a GOOD THING for them, you can either just trust me on this one... or do a Google search on the term and find out more for yourself. Suffice to say, however, that liberalized drinking laws that encourage nightlife will also encourage the creative class.
    • Discourage last-call binge-drinking. Somebody mentioned that they thought this wouldn't happen, because in Alaska people are allowed to drink all the time, and they do, and then they go drive. I like the response to this that, well, people will drink. I think that on average, this proposal will curb the last-call binge-drinking phenomenae, but it will probably not do anything to curb alcoholism in general. That's why I proposed spending some of the additional revenue on alcohol abuse prevention, education and treatment. Maybe we can build a society of more responsible drinkers?
    • Encourage micro-distilleries. Currently in Oregon, access to hard liquor is extremely limited. This proposal would allow micro-distilleries to potentially sell their product at, say, Fred Meyer's. Many people have opined that micro-distilleries in the Northwest may experience the same level of growth over the coming decades that micro-wineries and micro-breweries have seen in Oregon over the past.

    Thanks for all the great comments thus far!

    cheers, ~Garlynn

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)
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    Great. Now all the homicidal cops will have "drunk and disorderly" as an excuse to harass the innocent and low income.

    Why not let the casinos offer legalized prostitution? It would reduce gasoline consumption and our dependence on furin erl sapplies.

  • (Show?)

    Comparing when/where a legal item can be bought cannot be compared to something that is illegal, no matter when it happens or where it happens.

    Consuming alcohol is legal. Prostitution is not.

    We're just talking about altering who can sell alcohol and during what hours.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Garlynn,

    Why not reform California's liquor laws, since you live there now. From my perspective, taking guns away from cops and increasing access to alcohol will not make Oregon a better place to live. I've lived in California, and I think Oregon's liquor laws are far superior.

    Jenni,

    Gambling was illegal too, until we changed the laws.

    If greater access to alcohol seems like a fine idea, then why not greater access to prostitution? It seems to work in Las Vegas, and (ta-dah!), casino patrons might be inclined to spend more dollars in local casinos if Oregon could offer the same ameneties as Vegas. Alcohol and prostitution seem like a natural combo.

    Criminologists will tell you that prostitution is an intractable problem, despite the many risks involved (to both parties). If your going to support libertarian policies on alcohol, why not vice?

  • Justin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Prostitution is only legal in Nevada outside of city limits. You guys should know that.

  • Ralph W. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Dear So What (er, Bored)

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

  • (Show?)

    I never said I did or did not support legalizing prostitution.

    I was just pointing out that we were talking about changing the rules regarding something that is already legal. That's a different topic than trying to legalize something that is illegal in pretty much the entire United States.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)
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    Oregon needs greater access to alcohol about as much as Ted Kennedy needs greater access to alcohol (or twinkies, for that matter).

    Does anybody detect a trend in Garlynns "ideas"? Taking guns away from cops. Increasing the number of retailers selling hard liquor and extending the hours of operation of "bars, pubs, and clubs."

    Does anybody believe that disarming Police Officers and increasing the availability of alcohol is going to make Oregon a better place to live?

    What's next, Garlynn? Maybe we let kids grow their own marijuana in science class to make sure it isn't tainted by any inorganic fillers or dangerous pesticides? "Cannabis for Kids" anyone?

    Tattoo all the conservatives with a Red "W" on their forehead, so that they can't just buy a Prius and try to "pass" for a progressive?

    How about we let all "non-violent" offenders out of jail if they promise to "NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER" break the law again. You don't think car thefts and burgularies might increase a smidge?

    This is another "progressive idea" worthy of nothing but scorn.

  • Garlynn (unverified)
    (Show?)

    In checking back up on this topic, I find that the rabid haters (that's hate-er, not hatter) on the right have continued their Roveian tactics of personal attacks and negative-isms, of attempting to take terminology and symbolisms from the left and redefine it to suit their own fascist ways.

    That's fine; we expect no better of them.

    However, for those of you who may be confused or blinded by these tactics, let me clear up any confusion that may have been caused.

    Yes, I am a fifth-generation Oregonian, who proposes these ideas in order to preserve and improve the quality of life in my homeland.

    Yes, I own property in Oregon, and that is where the three remaining generations of my family on most branches reside.

    Yes, I currently earn an income in California, where I temporarily relocated to because of a lack of employment opportunities for me in Oregon within my field at the time.

    Yes, I am registered to vote in Oregon, and that is where I pay the most attention to political issues.

    However, I do find it interesting, that there are two themes that I detect among people that I meet in California who have left Oregon:

    1) They couldn't find employment within their field in Oregon, so they moved south where they could get a job 2) They moved south because there wasn't enough culture to keep their attention, or they perceived a more exciting life was waiting for them in a more cosmopolitan area.

    As tempting as it is for die-hard Oregonians to say "screw 'em, they chose to leave, let 'em go" (and that is my first gut reaction), I think that this is a signal that there is room for improvement within Oregon's quality of life, even within Portland. That is why I propose these ideas; in hopes of encouraging the type of culture that makes a place more vibrant culturally, and in hopes of encouraging employment opportunities. (The third idea, which deals more directly with employment, is better suited for a discussion of the "Big Look" on land use.)

    cheers, ~Garlynn

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