The long-outdated Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) warehouse will be replaced with a new modern facility.
The Mississippi House and Senate have come to an agreement regarding what to do with the current outdated Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) warehouse in Gluckstadt.
SB 2844 will allow the state to construct a new facility to be operated by a third-party contractor. This update will allow ABC to meet the growing demands of the state on alcohol purchasing.
The legislation creates a fund that the Mississippi Department of Revenue (DOR) will utilize in order for the new warehouse to be built. The fund will be filled by a $1 fee per case in the warehouse. DOR must select a site that is within 50 miles of the state Capitol building and an operator will be contracted with the department.
House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Trey Lamar said the current warehouse held roughly 4 million cases last year. Using that estimate, that would bring in $4 million in revenue for the project. With this fee, Lamar said it could potentially impact the cost of the product to the consumer.
A plan would be necessary in the event the operator terminated the contract and the state was required to resume control. That plan must be submitted to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House, the Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as to the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER).
Rep. Lamar said this problem began to rear its head in 2014. He said on the retail side there was a concern on the real reality of increased prices. With the passage of the bill, lawmakers anticipate a transition period while the contract process ensues and then construction begins. The new operator would take over the current warehouse before the new facility was built.
“The thought is for a private operator to be in the warehouse operating this fall,” said Lamar.
While the new operator would be in place at the current facility, Lamar said it could be at least another year before the new facility began construction.
“The Mississippi ABC has continued to serve the consumer and licensees to the best of its ability despite enduring longstanding logistical complications related to its warehouse operations,” said David Wojnar, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Senior Vice President and Head of State Public Policy. “The creation of a new warehouse under SB 2844 will provide the ABC with the resources needed to reach its full potential and better serve hospitality businesses and consumers throughout the state.”
Wojnar said he and his organization commended the Senate and House conferees, led by Senator Chris Johnson and Rep. Lamar, for coming to an agreement that will help modernize the current system and make it more efficient and consumer friendly.
“We also commend the Mississippi ABC for continuing to seek solutions that put consumers first,” he added.