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NC Liquor Laws Move Into The 21st Century With Some Resistance

A warehouse of barrels.
Courtesy of Southern Distilling Company
Southern Distilling Company in Statesville specializes in specialty in bourbon, rye, and single malt whiskeys, rums, and liqueurs.

The ABC Store is a tradition that has ruled North Carolina since the end of prohibition. Alcohol was a divisive political issue after prohibition ended, and North Carolina took a firm stance.

The state was one of the last to ratify the 21st Amendment. Liquor may have become legal in the 1930s, but the state did not begin to embrace liquor-by-the drink until 1978. North Carolina is one of 17 states that still control liquor sales, and until recently the state has virtually stood still on updating its laws. Now there are several new laws being passed and proposed that will change how liquor is sold around the state.

Will Doran, political reporter for The News and Observer, joins host Frank Stasio to talk about two new alcohol laws: one that allows beer and wine sales at campus sporting events throughout the UNC system and the ABC Regulatory Reform Act which will help local distillery companies compete with the craft beer and wine industries. Author and historian Chuck McShane joins the conversation to detail North Carolina’s history from prohibition to today. McShane authored articles about the topic for Charlotte Magazine and the North Carolina Historical Review about the state’s liquor history.

And North Carolina House Majority Whip Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) shares his support for House Bill 971 which seeks to end ABC stores completely. Walter Harris, chair of Chatham County ABC Board, voices opposition to that bill which he says will increase the cost of liquor in the state and cause many North Carolinians to lose their jobs. Vienna Barger co-owns Southern Distilling Company in Statesville and joins the conversation to share how the changes in North Carolina’s liquor laws affect her business.

Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Josie Taris left her home in Fayetteville in 2014 to study journalism at Northwestern University. There, she took a class called Journalism of Empathy and found her passion in audio storytelling. She hopes every story she produces challenges the audience's preconceptions of the world. After spending the summer of 2018 working in communications for a Chicago nonprofit, she decided to come home to work for the station she grew up listening to. When she's not working, Josie is likely rooting for the Chicago Cubs or petting every dog she passes on the street.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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