State Liquor Control Act
In 1933, individual states within the United States ratified the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, which had legalized Prohibition. Also in 1933, Ohio voters repealed a Prohibition amendment in the Ohio constitution.
With the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol now legal in Ohio, the state legislature attempted to create a regulating agency to oversee the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in Ohio. The resulting act was the State Liquor Control Act, passed on March 30, 1933. The initial legislation created the Ohio Liquor Control Board. This agency was to establish regulations that governed the manufacture, the sale, and the distribution of all legal alcoholic beverages. On December 22, 1933, the Ohio legislature modified the State Liquor Control Act by creating the Department of Liquor Control. This department was to establish and supervise stores operated by the State of Ohio to sell liquor. In essence, this modified State Liquor Control Act gave the Ohio government a monopoly in the sale of liquor.
The reason why the Ohio legislature modified the original Liquor Control Act was to raise money for various governmental programs. During the 1930s, the Great Depression gripped Ohio and the rest of the United States. The Liquor Control Act provided the Ohio legislature with access to more funds that allowed the state government to assist Ohioans suffering in this economic downturn. State liquor stores remain in operation at the start of the twenty-first century. In 1985 alone, the Ohio government earned more than 100 million dollars from sales in these stores.
During the 1990s, Ohio Governor George Voinovich and the state legislature sought to increase the profits from state liquor sales. To accomplish this, state officials eliminated state-owned liquor stores. Now, liquor sales in Ohio were to be handled by state “agents.” Agents were not employees of the Ohio government. Rather, they were private contractors who received a commission from the alcohol that they sold. The Ohio government continued to own the liquor, but it did not have to employ workers to sell the alcohol, saving Ohio millions of dollars. The switch to state liquor agencies, according to some estimates, saved Ohio 21.4 million dollars per year.
- Behr, Edward. Prohibition: Thirteen Years that Changed America. New York, NY: Arcade Pub., 1996.
- Clark, Norman. Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York, NY: Norton, 1976.
- Kobler, John. Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York, NY: Putnam, 1973.