How does Question 3’s rejection affect Massachusetts consumers?

Photo credit: Unsplash / John Hernandez

By Sophia Falbo
Boston University News Service

Question 3 was rejected by Massachusetts voters during the 2022 midterm elections. If passed, it would have changed the laws regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages and limited liquor licenses for retailers, according to the AP.

Question 3 was the only question on the ballot to not get approved by voters by a close majority of 55.3%. The arguments for and against the vote were backed by stakeholders including the Massachusetts Retailers Association and Total Wine, respectively. 

If Question 3 would have gotten approved on the Nov. 8 election, there would have been an increase in the number of licenses a retailer could have for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be consumed on the property. The use of self-checkout in stores would also be limited, and retailers would be required to accept out-of-state IDs from customers, which is permitted in every other state. Finally, the amount of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses that retailers could obtain would be limited. 

According to WBUR, the measure would have increasingly doubled the total number of alcohol licenses a business can hold from nine to 18 by 2031. The amount of “full” liquor licenses a company can own would also be restricted. 

The Massachusetts Package Stores Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping locally-owned retail businesses, backed the proposition in late September, according to its official website. They argued that approval of the law would support small liquor businesses amongst the rising competition. 

The Massachusetts Retailers Association shared support for a market without license caps. Total Wine, the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, spent over two million dollars in late October to back the “No on 3” campaign, according to its official website. 

Naiysean Leng, an employee at Fenway Beer Shop, said there’s no definitive “good” or “bad” to Question 3 not passing during the election. 

“As a worker, it’s hard for me to point out my opinions. I can see pros and cons between Question 3’s failure,” he said. “To support local and small business, it’s all about understanding and seeing where that store could be coming from.” 

However, he did add that if Question 3 passed, allowing stores to obtain more liquor licenses, “it would kill all the small business here [in Fenway] for sure.” A lot of customers have been trying to help support Fenway Beer Shop, especially with big stores, such as Star Market and Target, nearby and being able to sell large quantities of liquor at cheaper prices.  

“To my personal opinion working, when everything expanded, who is it to say bigger liquor stores, like Total Wine, wouldn’t fight to get a bigger license.” 

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