March 18, 2013

Maine liquor chief: Up-front fee would cost us

Any bidder would be able to charge for the use of his $200 million, state legislators are told.

By Jessica Hall
Staff Writer

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But Ford Reiche, president of Dirigo Spirit, which plans to bid for the contract, said the governor's plan makes more sense financially. "The state's going to make the most money if they do a fee-for-service arrangement," he said.

"The up-front fee in L.D. 644 sells off the (future) revenue stream. . . . You have to guarantee the person who wrote the up-front check a return," Reiche said.

One aspect of L.D. 239 calls for the state to reduce the price of certain spirits to be more competitive with New Hampshire.

Reid said the state could adjust prices every three months, if needed, to fine-tune its strategy of improving competition with New Hampshire.

Rep. Jeffery Gifford, R-Lincoln, a committee member, said he'd like the new liquor contract to add an education component about the dangers of substance abuse and to set aside money for that initiative. Reid said some educational programs are already in place, but more could be done.

Another committee member, Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, expressed concern about liquor companies marketing to children and said the state should have the right to pull products off the shelves if distillers target minors in any promotions or labeling.

The state already has the right to review brands, labels and promotions from spirits distillers and it takes that responsibility seriously, Reid said.

Another work session on the competing liquor proposals is scheduled for Friday.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be reached at: 791-6316

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