Some legislators pushing for quick liquor privatization vote

Privatizing Pennsylvania’s liquor system could come to a vote sooner rather than later.  Some legislators are looking to push a plan through the House as soon as this month.

It’s ease against enforcement.  Money versus jobs.  The idea of privatization has been floating around the Capitol for years but now there is a renewed push by some Republicans to make it happen.  One Republican representative is pushing for a vote on Governor Tom Corbett’s plan as early as this month.  While others are saying it’s time to cool the jets.

Changing the way Pennsylvanians buy booze.  Governor Tom Corbett and some House Republicans are pushing forward with a plan.  That proposal is meeting some opposition, even within their own party.

“We would like to see more Pennsylvania wine and spirit shops inside supermarkets,” said John Meyerson from the United Food and Commercial Workers.

The Governor`s plan would auction off 1,200 liquor licenses across the state.  Beer and wine would be available in an unlimited number of pharmacies and grocery stores.  Any convenience store would also be able to sell beer.

“Pennsylvanians will join Americans of 48 states who have convenience, who are able to pick up beer and wine in a grocery store,” said Lt. Governor Jim Cawley.

Box stores and beer distributors will be able to sell beer and wine, and if successful in getting a license they can sell liquor as well.  Proponents say Pennsylvania could finally make its way into the 20th century.  Opponents predict dire consequences.

“Right now Pennsylvania has the lowest rate of alcohol morbidity in the country. We think that the system we have now is keeping Pennsylvania safer,” Meyerson said.

However, the Governor and Representative Mike Turzai’s plan could face a challenge inside the Republican party. Representative John Taylor will offer some changes to the Governor’s plan.  He would like to allow grocery stores with cafes and restaurants to sell take-out wines.  Also, Representative Taylor’s plan would allow gas stations and convenience stores could to sell alcohol.  Neither idea is included in the Governor’s plan.

Both of the privatization plans are mostly opposed by the democrats.  They are worried about giving up control of both the retail and wholesale side of the booze business.  The union that represents the 4,000 state workers who work at the liquor stores is also opposed to the privatization plan.