SANTA FE – The New Mexico Legislature sent a bill to the governor that would overhaul state liquor regulations in an effort to invigorate the hospitality industry.
The Senate voted 29-11 Tuesday to approve the bill, and the House quickly agreed to recent amendments.
The measure would legalize liquor deliveries when accompanied by food and expand restaurant alcohol licenses that meet local ordinances to include not only beer and wine but also spirits with a 10 p.m. cutoff. Tastings would be allowed at craft distilleries.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham set the legislation as a priority at the start of the legislative session.
Lawmakers advanced the legislation amid concerns about economic stagnation under a 40-year-old system of closely guarded monopolies on licenses for packaged liquor sales that routinely sell for more than $300,000 and serve as family inheritances.
Those license holders are being offered up to $200,000 in tax deductions over a four-year period, along with waivers on annual license fees.
Lost state income from the tax deduction would be offset by a new 2% excise tax on individual drink sales.
A string of Senate amendments would do away with Sunday morning restrictions on alcohol sales and require that the state study the effects of home alcohol deliveries on public health.