I’ve discussed two bills already before the General Assembly that would free up craft breweries and distilleries from some regulatory restrictions.

Now Carolina Journal has the story on support for the newly filed House Bill 971 from the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association and N.C. Retail Merchants Association. John Trump writes:

A group of lawmakers, led by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, introduced the bill Thursday, April 25.

The Modern Licensure Model for Alcohol Control basically clears a path for private liquor stores in North Carolina. The bill’s other primary sponsors are Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford; Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; and Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford. …

North Carolina is the only state in which some 170 independent boards exert local control over liquor sales. It has the second lowest outlet density in the nation, with only .58 ABC stores per 10,000 people, the new release says. …

Businesses must navigate an antique process to order, receive, and sell spirits in North Carolina, the groups say.

“For example, for a restaurant or bar to place an order, they are able to browse and order online but are restricted to what is in stock in the county’s inventory — even if a neighboring county is showing availability. Once the order is placed, they must physically send an employee to an ABC warehouse to pick up the order, compared to having wine or beer delivered. Often, the employee is using a personal vehicle to load and unload the heavy boxes with high-value product; and since most ABC stores won’t accept electronic payment from wholesale customers, the restaurant must pay in cash or provide a check for the exact amount.”

My report on the state’s ABC System earlier this year illustrated just what a bureaucratic maze it is to navigate. Here’s the chart from that report:

Click the graph for the full size. For contrast, the lower left corner shows the much more direct path in a license state.