New Mexico House endorses liquor reforms

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state House of Representatives has endorsed a bill aimed at energizing the hospitality industry in rural New Mexico by relaxing state restrictions on liquor sales.

On a 41-27 vote, the House approved a bill that would expand tasting to distilleries and broaden restaurant liquor licenses to include not only beer and wine but also spirits with a 10 p.m. cutoff.

Amid concerns about economic stagnation, legislators are wrestling with how to modernize a closely guarded monopoly on licenses for packaged liquor sales.

The bill also allows restaurants to deliver alcoholic drinks with food and works to make liquor licenses more affordable. The proposed legislation offers a $200,000 tax deduction over a four year period to liquor license holders and waives future annual license fees.

Lawmakers plan to balance those costs out by having consumers pay an extra 2% tax on alcohol.