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November 2013 … the Maryland 2014 Legislative session is just around the corner. There is no doubt that chain store legislation will again be introduced. This is a dangerous prospect to the independent beer, wine and liquor store. It is in you and your business’ best interest to get involved and be prepared to defend your position to your state representatives. Many of you are involved and are familiar with the process of protecting your business from harmful proposed legislation. Below is a quick ‘How To’ for everyone else…
First, you need to know what proposed legislation is coming down the pipe and how it would affect your business. The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) was formed, in part, because the association's leaders understood that actions in the Maryland State House directly impact the operations of your businesses. The MSLBA tracks proposed legislation that will have an effect on its members’ livelihoods. They do this right at their web site, www.mslba.org.
Next, you will need to know who your elected officials are. There is a very quick and easy way to find out … go to http://mdelect.net and type in your address. Make note of who your State Senator and State Delegates are.
Now you will need to inform yourself as to the contributions you and your business make to the community. American Beverage Licensees (ABL) has a way for you to quantify the significant contribution you make to your community when it comes to jobs, taxes and economic impact. ABL is the preeminent national trade association for licensed beverage retailers. Through the ABL website, www.ablusa.org, ABL members can create reports and download data that detail the number of jobs and amount of taxes that they provide to their communities, as well as more in-depth economic impact information at the state legislative district level. This is a very powerful tool. By utilizing this economic study data, you now have the ability to tell your overwhelmingly positive story and impact you have in your community to your representatives in Annapolis.
Lastly, you will need to get the attention of your representatives and share your story with them. I would suggest you again enlist the help of the MSLBA. At their web site, www.mslba.org, go to their Legislative area and you’ll find information on upcoming events as well as how to put together an email or letter that will be well received by your representatives.
Access to the above mentioned materials at the MSLBA web site are free to all. However, I would highly suggest becoming a member if you are not already. If you want more information than is on their web site feel free to call the MSLBA at 410 876-3464.
Access to state Senate and House district data is free to ABL members and requires additional log-in information, which can be obtained by contacting the ABL office. If you are not a member of ABL, you will need to become one to access the Economic Impact Study data and create reports etc. In addition to www.ablusa.org you can call them at 301 656-1494.
Get involved … your livelihood may depend on it.