AT LEAST this year the Carroll County commissioners and the county's State House delegation were able to sit down in a timely fashion to discuss proposed changes in the county's liquor laws. Last year, the meeting took place too late for the General Assembly session. But judging from the comments of some legislators, don't expect much improvement in some of Carroll's more nonsensical liquor regulations.
Given the problems liquor can cause, there undoubtedly should be regulation and strong oversight of alcohol sales. However, liquor is a legal substance, and the regulations need to be sensible. Too many of Carroll's liquor laws tackle problems in the most ham-handed fashion.
The commissioners and the delegation are opposed to Sunday sales of liquor in those years when Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve fall on Sundays. Preventing liquor sales on these two Sundays won't reduce liquor consumption in the county by a drop, and everyone knows it.
It's New Year's Eve and you forgot to stock up? You a.) cancel your party, or b.) cross the county line and do business in those jurisdictions with Sunday sales. Moreover, the tax revenue generated by thousands of purchases made on those two days will end up in the coffers of other counties -- not a good policy for a government desperate for revenue.
The other reasonable proposal that seems to trouble Carroll's elected officials is a request to allow waiters and waitress who are 18 years and older to pour drinks and take money for them. The liquor board opposes the change, arguing that waiters under 21 might be tempted to serve their friends. If this proposal were to pass, the waiters younger than 21 would simply have to abide by the current law that prohibits waiters 21 and older from serving their under-age friends. What makes lawmakers think a 21-year-old is any less susceptible to serving underage customers, or that an 18-year-old is more willing to risk his job for the sake of friends?
The one proposal that cries out for enactment is the prohibition against drive-up liquor sales. Allowing these kinds of sales would make it easier for minors to buy alcohol and be contrary to the general good. That is the kind of effective, sensible liquor legislation residents have a right to expect from the delegation.