Patrick moves to eliminate liquor license cap for cities, towns

Philadelphia bar
Drink up.
Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed to eliminate the cap on liquor licenses in communities around the state, and local leaders couldn’t be drunker with delight. 

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said his border city faces competition from New Hampshire retailers, and lifting the limits on licenses for liquor stores will be a “great help.”

“We have to compete with those damn conservative Republican socialist liquor stores up in New Hampshire,” Fiorentini said during a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission, adding, “It always struck me as ironic that a conservative Republican state had state-run liquor stores.”

The mayors, selectmen, school committee members and other local officials met with members of the Patrick administration on Tuesday to discuss recent developments with the budget, a supplemental spending bill and veterans’ issues.

Eric Nakajima, assistant secretary for innovation policy at Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, said lifting the cap on liquor licenses will eliminate a “hurdle” for businesses seeking access to liquor licenses that are often part of larger economic development projects.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone appeared with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll at a legislative hearing in August to testify in favor of legislation to eliminate the cap, arguing that restaurant owners find it difficult to locate in Somerville because of a lack of available licenses.

Approving additional liquor licenses for cities and towns has become a routine function of the House and Senate, usually occurring during lightly attended informal sessions but only after the bills have passed through committee and been vetted by lawyers.

With the support of Mayor Martin Walsh, Rep. Russell Holmes and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley have been pushing to lift the cap on liquor licenses in Boston and turn full control over the licensing process to the city’s Licensing Board as a method for revitalizing certain neighborhoods.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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