Senators put up the stops on easier access to liquor in SC

Senators put up the stops on easier access to liquor in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Some senators hope to slow potentially easier access to liquor in South Carolina.

This, after the Supreme Court overruled the state law forbidding businesses to operate more than three liquor stores. A proviso in the Senate-approved budget would add a hefty charge onto a company's liquor license fee on the fourth and subsequent stores.

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn the three-liquor-store-only law would allow big box companies like grocery stores and Walmart to sell liquor in South Carolina. Small, mom-and-pop shops in the Columbia area were disappointed in this.

Store managers like John Alexander at Sligh's ABC Package Store would support that fee to try to discourage more liquor stores from opening.

"It's important to me and my family, of course, because that pays the bills. It puts food on the table," Alexander explained. "As a small business, having to compete with all the bigger businesses, it makes it harder for us because, of course, they could push us out."

The amendment on the Senate's budget would have any store opening its fourth or more liquor store to pay a fee of its average gross in sales in a year at other stores, on each added store license.

"The mom and pop liquor stores, these people who have spent their entire life, you know, putting their money into their business, that would just basically run them out of business," Sen. Katrina Shealy explained.

Shealy (R- Lexington) is one of three senators to propose the fee to try to take up for small businesses and to try to discourage the others from opening more stores or selling liquor at all.

Alexander thinks it's an idea that could work, but may not be the ultimate stop.

"But again, with the bigger corporations, they have that kind of money in funding so it really wouldn't matter to them," he says.

What do consumers want? Alexander believes they would shop at mega-stores if the prices were low.

Shealy says it's not too late for consumers to weigh-in.

"You know, we're in South Carolina. You know, we're in the 'Bible Belt' of the South. Do we want liquor sold at every grocery store, at every Walmart? I think that would be a good question to throw out there," she says.

The budget bill would still need to be considered by the House again and eventually Governor Henry McMaster, in order for it to become law.

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