Explainer: Ballot question 3 would expand availability of licenses for sale of alcoholic beverages

Expanded Availability of Licenses for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 3, 2022?


This proposed law would increase the statewide limits on the combined number of licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption (including licenses for “all alcoholic beverages” and for “wines and malt beverages”) that any one retailer could own or control: from 9 to 12 licenses in 2023; to 15 licenses in 2027; and to 18 licenses in 2031.

Beginning in 2023, the proposed law would set a maximum number of “all alcoholic beverages” licenses that any one retailer could own or control at 7 licenses unless a retailer currently holds more than 7 such licenses.

The proposed law would require retailers to conduct the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption through face-to-face transactions and would prohibit automated or self-checkout sales of alcoholic beverages by such retailers.

The proposed law would alter the calculation of the fine that the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may accept in lieu of suspending any license issued under the State Liquor Control Act. The proposed law would modify the formula for calculating such fee from being based on the gross profits on the sale of alcoholic beverages to being based on the gross profits on all retail sales.

The proposed law would also add out-of-state motor vehicle licenses to the list of the forms of identification that any holder of a license issued under the State Liquor Control Act, or their agent or employee, may choose to reasonably rely on for proof of a person’s identity and age.


A YES VOTE would increase the number of licenses a retailer could have for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be consumed off premises, limit the number of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses that a retailer could acquire, restrict use of self-checkout, and require retailers to accept customers’ out-of-state identification.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

See full text of proposed law


As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposed measure has no discernible material fiscal consequences for state and municipal government finance.


As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: A YES vote fulfills consumer desire for expanded convenience in a reasonable and balanced manner that also protects against illegal sales.

A YES vote expands convenience by gradually increasing the total number of alcoholic beverage licenses that any person or company can own. Package stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, superstore retailers, and others will be able to apply for additional licenses for their existing locations that do not currently sell alcohol and for new locations they open.

A YES vote simultaneously enhances public safety and encourages vigilance by retailers through prohibiting self-checkout of alcohol beverages and basing the fine for selling to a minor on a store’s total sales and not just its alcohol sales.

A YES vote also supports state tourism and brings Massachusetts in line with every other state in the country by allowing for valid out of state IDs to be relied upon by alcohol beverage retailers.

Robert Mellion 21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee 30 Lyman Street, Suite 2 Westborough, MA 01581 (508) 366-1100 www.Masspack.org

AGAINST: Our alcohol licensing laws do need serious reforms, but this ballot measure is not the answer. It offers an incomplete solution to a complex problem, doing little to promote competition or expand consumer choice.

Despite some superficially popular provisions designed to entice voters, it fails to lift outdated restrictions on local decision-making, while in fact moving Massachusetts backwards in several significant ways:

  • imposing unfair penalties against retailers who sell more than just alcohol, like grocers and other food stores;
  • outlawing convenient and reliable point-of-sale technologies already in widespread use by retailers across the state;
  • decreasing the number of full liquor licenses that retailers can own.

This flawed approach favors special interests in the alcohol industry, at the expense of cash-strapped consumers and their favorite local retailers.

We deserve more. Vote NO on this question, and instead ask your state lawmakers to support comprehensive legislation that will actually make a difference.

Food Stores for Consumer Choice P.O. Box 130211 Boston, MA 02113 (617) 798-0465 www.FoodStoresMA.org

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