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  • Thursday, January 27, 2022 8:04 AM | Anonymous
  • Tuesday, December 21, 2021 11:53 AM | Anonymous

    Beverage alcohol sellers are required to verify the age of consumers to ensure alcohol doesn't fall into the hands of minors, and states are on the lookout for businesses that fail to verify age in the proper way.

    Age verification requirements for direct shippers are set by each state, yet only about seven states have explicit requirements for verifying age for direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales. The remaining states prohibit sales of alcohol to minors but may not have explicit guidelines detailing how direct shippers must verify the age of consumers.

    When a transaction takes place face to face, it's easy to ask for the consumer's identification. Verifying age is more difficult for online sellers, but there are four key age verification processes available for direct shippers:

    1.    Affirm the age of the consumer before they shop by restricting access to digital content

    2.    Collect the purchaser's date of birth, which is required on some returns

    3.    Verify the purchaser's age

    4.    Require the deliverer to inspect identification and obtain a signature at the point of delivery

    STATE AGE VERIFICATION POLICIES

    The following states have clear age verification guidelines for direct shippers of alcoholic beverages.

    Arizona. Licensees must verify the purchaser is at least 21 years of age by obtaining a copy of a valid photo identification as prescribed in section 4-241, subsection K. Alternatively, a licensee may use an age verification service.

    Georgia. Licensees must require the person placing the beverage alcohol order to "state affirmatively that he or she is of the age required by Code Section 3-3-23" and verify the age of the orderer either by physically examining an approved government issued form of identification or by using an approved online age and identification service.

    Indiana. Licensees must obtain proof that the consumer is at least 21 by checking a state or federal government issued identification card. If in-person verification isn't possible, a photocopy or facsimile copy that's mailed or electronically transmitted is acceptable, as is a computer scanned, electronically transmitted copy. Alternatively, the licensee may use an age verification service. Direct wine shippers must tell carriers to verify the recipient of an alcohol shipment is at least 21 as well. Records must be maintained for two years.

    Kansas. Licensees must require the person placing the order to "state affirmatively that he or she is 21 years of age or older." Additionally, the licensee must verify the age of that person "either by the physical examination of an approved government issued form of identification or by utilizing an internet based age and identification service approved by the director of alcoholic beverage control, or the director's designee." Kansas provides a list of approved internet-based age and identification service providers.

    The carrier is responsible for obtaining the signature of an adult who is at least 21 years of age "as a condition of delivery."

    Michigan. Licensees must verify the age of the individual placing the order by obtaining a copy of a photo identification issued by this state, another state, or the federal government, or by using an identification verification service (several have been approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission). Michigan also requires the person receiving and accepting the order on behalf of the qualified retailer to record the name, address, date of birth, and telephone number of the individual placing the order on the order form or other verifiable record of a type and generated in a manner approved by the commission and provide a duplicate to the commission. For alcohol deliveries, recipients must show identification verifying their age and sign for delivery.

    Oklahoma. Licensees must require consumers to verify, "by electronic means or otherwise," that the consumer is at least 21 years of age. Direct wine shippers must ensure the deliverer or common carrier obtains the signature of a person aged 21 or older.

    South Dakota. Direct shippers must verify the age of the person placing the order by obtaining a copy of the person's valid age-bearing photo identification document issued by this state, another state, or the federal government, or by using an age verification service. The direct shipper must also record the name, address, date of birth, and telephone number of the person placing the order on the order form or other verifiable record. Finally, the direct shipper must notify the person placing the order that the recipient is required to show a valid age-bearing photo identification document issued by this state, another state, or the federal government upon delivery.

    WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL TO VERIFY A CUSTOMER'S AGE?

    Failure to confirm the age of customers is risky for businesses.

    States periodically engage in sting operations to determine whether beverage alcohol sellers are checking identification as required. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control runs a well-publicized Minor Decoy Program to "reduce the number of licensees who sell alcohol to minors and reduce youth access to alcohol." For the first offense, a business can be fined or have its license suspended. The license is automatically suspended after a second offense and may be revoked after a third offense. The Oregon Legislature is looking to require the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to develop uniform standards for a similar minor decoy program.

    The South Dakota Department of Revenue is required to penalize businesses that sell alcohol to minors, with penalties ranging from $500 to $2,000 and/or suspension of license. Recently, the state sent emails to direct shippers reminding them to renew their licenses, register all products, and verify the age of consumers. It advised direct shippers to either obtain a copy of every customer's identification at the point of sale (and retain it for three years) or use an age verification program to ensure customers are actually of age. The department also warned that failure to verify age as required could lead to a $1,000 fine per shipment - a penalty the department issued a few times in 2021.

    In a nutshell, direct shippers must do more than ask customers to check a box stating they're 21 or older.

    Similarly, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission recently issued warning letters to some licensees. The letters explain that Massachusetts prohibits sales of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years of age under M.G.L. c. 138 §19F, and that the commission could impose the following penalties:

    ·         First violation: 180-day suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $1,000, or both

    ·         Second violation: 1-year suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $2,000, or both

    ·         Third, or subsequent violations: 2-year suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $5,000, or both

    The commission then encouraged recipients to ensure their company accepts orders and payment for alcoholic beverages only from persons who are 21 years of age or older.

    One way to ensure age verification is to contract with a third-party age verification service provider.

    USING A THIRD-PARTY AGE VERIFICATION PROGRAM

    The fact that age verification is required puts direct shippers in a tricky spot because verifying the age of the consumer generally requires a transfer of sensitive personally identifiable information, such as a driver's license or passport. As Avalara for Beverage Alcohol General Manager Jeff Carroll notes, copies of these documents must then be maintained for up to four years for audit purposes - and protected.

    Using an age verification service like Avalara Age Verification for Beverage Alcohol allows you to obtain the information you need to verify the age of consumers without the added burden of storing that information in your business systems. Visit Avalara for Beverage Alcohol to learn more.

     


  • Friday, December 10, 2021 8:12 AM | Anonymous
  • Monday, December 06, 2021 11:49 AM | Anonymous

    Massachusetts minimum wage is increasing in January; And another raise is coming in 2023

    Updated: Dec. 03, 2021, 12:59 p.m. | Published: Dec. 03, 2021, 12:56 p.m.

    By Heather Morrison | hmorrison@masslive.com

    In less than a month, the Massachusetts minimum wage will be increasing to $14.25.

    In 2021, the minimum wage in the commonwealth was $13.50, which had increased from 2020′s wage of $12.75.

    The consistent yearly increases will continue through 2023 when the minimum wage will be $15.

    “Minimum wage will go up in steps to reach $15 per hour in January 2023,” the Massachusetts government website states.

    Tipped minimum wage, however, is different.

    Currently tipped employees minimum wage is $5.55. It was increase in January to $6.15.

    “This rate will go up in steps to reach $6.75 per hour in January 2023,” the website states.

    A tipped employee is considered anyone who makes more than $20 a month in tips. However, they must receive at least the overall minimum wage, which is currently $13.50, when tips and wages are combined.

    “If the combined wages and actual tips do not at least equal the regular minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the difference,” the state said.

    The federal minimum wage is much lower than the commonwealth’s.

    Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which began July 24, 2009.

    Certain businesses have also begun raising their own minimum wages.

    Costco increased its minimum wage from $16 an hour to $17. Bank of America raised its minimum hourly wage to $21 with a plan to go to $25 per hour by 2025. CVS Health is also increasing its minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour starting July 2022.

  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 10:47 AM | Anonymous

    Baker and Polito Both Pass on 2022 Guv Race

    Campaign for Corner Office Wide Open with 11 Months to Go

    Matt Murphy12/1/21 10:11 AM

    STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 1, 2021.....Gov. Charlie Baker, a two-term Republican who at his peak was one of the most popular governors in the country, will not seek a third term, throwing wide open the 2022 race for the state's top political office after close to two years of managing through a global pandemic.

    Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who was widely considered to be the heir to the Baker political legacy, has also decided against a run for governor in 2022, dramatically reshaping the contest on the Republican side and, perhaps, clearing a path for Attorney General Maura Healey to enter the race on the Democratic side.

    "After several months of discussion with our families, we have decided not to seek re-election in 2022. This was an extremely difficult decision for us. We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we've ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor," Baker and Polito said in a joint statement.

    Baker began telling friends and allies of his decision over the past 24 hours, and informed his Cabinet during a meeting Wednesday morning. The governor and lieutenant governor, in their statement, cited the need to focus on building an economic recovery as Massachusetts emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "We have a great deal of work to do to put the pandemic behind us, keep our kids in school, and keep our communities and economy moving forward. That work cannot and should not be about politics and the next election. If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many of the things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts. We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into," Baker and Polito said.

    Republican Geoff Diehl, a former state lawmaker, has already entered the race for his party's nomination with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, and three Democrats -- Harvard professor Danielle Allen, former state Sen. Ben Downing, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz -- are also running.

    Healey, the popular Democratic prosecutor, is also weighing a bid and could be more inclined to enter the fray with Baker out of the running. She has previously said she hoped to make a decision about her political future this fall.

    In addition to the polarized political environment, both Baker and Polito said the pandemic helped them realize the importance of taking time for family and friends after the grind of eight years leading the state.

    "Done right, these jobs require an extraordinary amount of time and attention, and we love doing them. But we both want to be there with Lauren and Steve and our children for the moments, big and small, that our families will experience going forward," the pair said.

    Recent polling has suggested that Baker could fair well in hypothetical matchups against the Democrats running or thinking about running, but he would also face a potentially bruising Republican primary as his relationship with the base of his party has frayed in the Trump era.

    Baker did not support Trump during either of the former president's runs for the White House, and Baker's approval ratings are stronger among Democrats and independents than with voters in his own party.

    Though it has been suggested in some political circles that Baker could run as an independent in 2022, the governor has brushed that notion aside, professing a belief in his brand of Republicanism molded under his political mentors former Govs. Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci.

    "We are determined to continue to put aside the partisan playbook that dominates so much of our political landscape – to form governing partnerships with our colleagues in local government, the Legislature, and the Congressional delegation. That bipartisan approach, where we listen as much as we talk, where we focus our energies on finding areas of agreement and not disagreement, and where we avoid the public sniping and grandstanding that defines much of our political discourse, allows us to make meaningful progress on many important issues," Baker and Polito said.

    Baker would have been the first governor in recent memory to run for three terms. The last governor to serve three four-year terms was Democrat Michael Dukakis, though his terms were non-consecutive.

    [This is a developing story.]



  • Monday, November 29, 2021 12:57 PM | Anonymous

    (link to article from WBUR with audio)

    Liquor stores say they have cleared a key hurdle to launching a ballot measure aimed at countering efforts by big chains to eliminate limits on the number of stores that can sell alcohol in Massachusetts.

    The Massachusetts Package Stores Association says it has gathered far more than the roughly 80,000 signatures needed by Dec. 1 to put a question on next year's ballot. The group's proposed measure would gradually double the number of licenses a single company could own in the state to 18, instead of removing the caps altogether. And only seven of those permits would be good for hard liquor.

    The package store trade association says the limits are needed to protect small local stores from major grocery and pharmacy chains.

    "They can't compete in that type of a marketplace where you've got these super companies that are discounting through cumulative quantity purchasing," said Rob Mellion, executive director of the package stores association. "You can't compete against that as a mom and pop."

    The ballot measure is intended to block efforts by Cumberland Farms and other chains to eliminate the license caps entirely.

    "The best thing to do is just to take the caps off, period," said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. "Leave some local controls but just allow the marketplace to work and determine who is serving the consumer the best."

    The proposed ballot measure also would change how the state calculates fines for violations, such as selling to underage drinkers. Grocers and convenience stores would pay much heftier penalties if voters or lawmakers approve the measure.

    Mellion, the package association executive director, said the group already has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the measure, though financial reports are not yet available from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Major retailers are expected to spend money to oppose the measure.

    Next year's ballot also could include other notable questions, including a petition to solidify the status of drivers for Uber and other app-based companies as independent contractors, rather than employees.

    Organizers must file at least 80,239 valid signatures with the secretary of state's office by Dec. 1 to move the ballot measures forward. The Legislature will first have the opportunity to turn the measures into law. And if lawmakers fail to act, organizations must submit an additional 13,374 signatures by July 6 to place the questions on the state ballot in November 2022.


  • Thursday, November 18, 2021 12:06 PM | Anonymous
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