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Bill Passed Allowing Retailers To Set Own Liquor Prices

LANSING, Mich. -- Retailers in Michigan could set their own prices for liquor under legislation headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature, reported the Associated Press.

Minimum prices would continue to be set by the state Liquor Control Commission, which has dictated the retail price of liquor since the end of Prohibition in 1933. But the bill would allow grocery stores, supermarkets and party stores to charge any price at or above the minimum.

"We'll have a floor on the price but once you take the ceiling off, prices will only go in one direction: higher," predicted Senate Democratic Leader Bob Emerson of Flint.

Granholm hasn't decided whether to sign the bill. "We're still looking at it," spokeswoman Liz Boyd told The Detroit News.

Bars and restaurants already are allowed to mark up the price of alcoholic drinks they serve. The legislation does not affect beer and wine prices. Liquor tax rates would not be affected. But revenue from sales taxes, which are separate from the liquor tax, could increase as long as higher prices don't curb consumption.

Emerson, who voted against the bill, said suburban customers would likely take their business to large supermarkets that aren't expected to raise prices. "But in inner cities, where you have a captive market of convenience stores, people will find the price of liquor going up," he said. "This is more of a tax increase on poor folks that's going into the pockets of retailers."
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