This story is a staff report from The Paper.


If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that home delivery is an essential service for just about everything. But a quirk in New Mexico’s decades-old alcohol laws prevents liquor license operators from adding that service. All that might change if a growing list of legislators and the governor has their way.

State Representative Dayan Hockman-Vigil (D) introduced House Bill 8 creating a new “Alcohol Beverage Delivery Permit” option allowing restaurants, and breweries to offer that option. New Mexico’s wineries, whose laws were written separately over the years, can already offer direct shipping and delivery in-state.

Could it pass? Probably. A similar measure by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino passed both the State House and Senate by easy bi-partisan majorities in 2019 but it was vetoed by the governor who cited technical issues and conflicts with other state laws. Still, the governor urged the legislature to try again and pledged her support for a cleaner bill.

So is this it? Restaurateurs and taprooms sure hope so. The legislature’s analysis of that 2019 bill found that adding beer with delivery meals increased the average delivery checks by $10 each. That’s a big deal for struggling restaurants whose profit margins in regular times count on the larger profits on alcohol to make ends meet. State and local governments would get a bump too. Home delivery could increase statewide alcohol sales by $6 million per year, according to the legislature. That creates an additional $428,000 in taxes the state and local governments could use right now.

The legislation would also allow grocery stores and bars to provide this service. For bars who have been 100% closed for 100% of the pandemic, this is a big opportunity to start putting some cash back in the bank.

That’s all well and good but in a state with longstanding alcohol-related health and DWI issues, opponents’ concerns are not to be ignored. One study found that underage purchasers were able to defeat age-verification 100% of the time they ordered home delivery. And without adding new revenue to enforcement, abuse of the system could run rampant.

Still, restaurants, bars and delivery drivers are ready. Like now.

What say you?

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