Liquor privatization passes House, faces challenges in Senate

Harrisburg- The State House voted in favor of a facelift for Pennsylvania’s antiquated liquor system.  The bill, House Bill 790 which approves liquor privatization, now moves on to the Senate where the privatization water is a bit murky.

It depends on what side of the aisle you fall as to how you believe this bill will affect your purchases.  Republicans think it will give more convenience, better choices and lower prices.  The Democrats believe Pennsylvania is selling off one of its most precious commodities for pennies on the dollar.  Either way, privatization is one step closer to become a realization.

Some 80 years after the end of prohibition, the Pennsylvania House voted in favor of privatizing the liquor system which would essentially get the state out of the booze business.

“I think it is a great bill.  I think it is one that we can work with,” said Governor Tom Corbett, (R) Pennsylvania.

“It’s something we are very proud of and it was a long time coming,” said Representative John Taylor, (R) Philadelphia.

House Republicans lead the charge last night.  After seven hours of floor debate, the bill passed the chamber in a 105 to 90 vote.  Under this plan, 1,200 liquor licenses would be up for sale, with grocery stores now eligible to sell beer and wine.  Daily hours could also expand bringing with it more convenience.

“We are moving PA into the 21st century.  This is a significant step,” said Representative Mike Turzai, (R) Allegheny County.

“If you believe in privatization, this is not the bill to do it,” said Representative Mike Sturla, (D) Lancaster County.

Democrats prefer the idea of modernizing the current system rather than selling it off.  Party members claim the state would lose almost $200 million a year in revenue.  Four thousand state workers could be out of a job if this bill passes.  Finally, enforcement is a worry.

“The more you learn about this, the uglier this bill looks.  I think that once people get to shine the light of day on this thing, they will look at it go and this is one ugly piece of legislation,” said Representative Sturla.

House Bill 790 is now heading to the Senate for consideration.  House Republicans realize there will be changes but believe it is a great start.

“We recognize that this is not complete but it definitely shows there is support for the four cornerstones of the private market,” said Rep. Turzai.

There are two noticeable omissions from the bill that passed last night compared to the Governor’s proposal.  First, there is no mention of where the money will go.  The Governor is hoping to put one billion dollars towards education.  Secondly, House Bill 790 does not include gas stations or pharmacies as places booze is sold. Of course, all of this can change when the Senate gets its hands on the bill.

14 comments

  • Albert Brooks

    Once you shine the light of day on it and the people see how it finally, after 80 years, gets the government out of telling them what they can and can not buy, gets rid of a small group in Harrisburg deciding what the state should have, gets rid of the incompetent, poorly managed bureaucracy, gets rid of the political cronyism and graft and finally gives the citizens the right to choose they will see that the Democrats are holding up the progress of the entire state to pay back their special interests.

    Privatization IS Modernization

    • HowIgnorantRU?

      There is no resemblance of government telling anyone what they can and cannot purchase. You purchase alcohol at certain places like you get your prescriptions at certain places and you put your trash at certain locations and you purchase your gasoline at certain locations. Even with privatization, there are limited numbers of licenses so you're not going to simply see any business decide they are going to sell alcohol.

    • prettyfoot58

      What about the 4000 workers and their families and the trickle down of effect of such a job loss means to PA…or doesn't that mean anything…Corbett wants ro privatize everything….they say that he wants to give the money to education.hoever the bill does not call for that…and afterCorbett gutted funds from public education…that is hard to believe…

      • Albert Brooks

        The entire PLCB is seven hundredths (.07) of one percent of the PA workforce. Since it isn't like they all are being let go at once there won't even be a blip on the unemployment radar.

  • sandy geesey

    I think instead of putting more people out of jobs they should keep the state stores. And just make a law that beer distributors can sell 6 packs and not put six packs in grocery stores. that way people can still buy six packs just at the beer distributors and bars. this might be an easier solutions.

    • Al P

      There will actually be more jobs since there will be more stores. Larger selection will draw business back from surrounding states. What we don't need is unionized clerks, small selection and the high prices we have now. Beer distributors are another dinosaur that needs to go away.

      • Drstrick

        There will be no more jobs created since stores won't have to hire more help to sell. It will be self serve in c stores and grocery stores that are already selling milk bread and eggs.

        • Albert Brooks

          Except that there are no wine or spirits licenses for C stores you are correct that grocery stores sell milk, bread and eggs.

    • HowIgnorantRU?

      The jobs argument is so negligible to anyone who is not employed at state stores. There are no hard facts that reveal any significant overall job loss or increase, only speculation that will never be examined after privatization because it will be OVER and MOOT by that point.

      Other than addiction to alcohol, I have no idea why it is such a problem to go to state stores to get alcohol for home use. If you aren't an over-user or abuser, then the slight higher cost is as negligible as 10 cents on a gas pump or finding out you paid a few dollars more at Giant than going to Wal-mart for groceries this week.

    • Rabbit

      So the beer distributors can make more money….. Come on people lets get this state out of the dark ages.

  • Some Guy

    Read the bill… This isn't privatization, it's cronyism to distributors. I still can't buy any alcohol at grocery or convenience stores without them having a restaurant license. This is government control, Republican style. What a joke…

    • Darly

      Yes, it is a joke! It isn't broken, so why does Corbett want to "fix it". Same with the outsourcing of the PA Lottery. I'd just like to know WHAT GOES with all of this privatization? Privatizing the liquor business in PA will bring in more funds for education!?!?!?!?!? What is with that anyway??? The education system is broken folks. The more money that is thrown down that particular rat hole the more "dumbed down" the next generation is becoming. MOST of today's teachers have their own agenda, educating our youth is secondary to lining their pockets. Sad, but way too true.

      • jayarby

        Is it broken? Are you kidding? A Model T that still runs is still a Model T. Let's get into the 21st century. Time to stop being the laughing stock of the country. Lower prices, better selection, and better customer service with privatization.

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