December 13, 2011

Amended Liquor Privatization Bill Clears House Committee

Tuesday the House Liquor Control Committee amended and reported out House Bill 11 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) aimed at reforming the way alcoholic beverages are sold in Pennsylvania.
            This marks the first time that privatization legislation has passed out of a legislative committee, let alone had a vote, since the end of Prohibition and the institution of the current state store system.
            “Today, the House Liquor Control Committee acknowledged the current State Store system is broken and beyond repair. This is a huge step for Pennsylvania consumers,” Rep. Turzai said. “Time and time again, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has proven how antiquated and out of touch the current system is – Pennsylvanians understand this and want change. The time has come to get government out of the alcohol business.”
            House Bill 11, as amended in Committee, now includes a package of reforms for beer sales by distributers, taverns and restaurants. The amended bill allows beer distributers to sell wine and beer. 
            The bill also allows private wine wholesalers to sell products to Commonwealth customers. The PLCB would still operate state stores, which would remain the only places in Pennsylvania where consumers can purchase liquor.
            According to Rep. Turzai, the PLCB has a long history of public misfires, including storing bottles in tractor trailers in 100-degree heat; spending tens of millions of dollars and committing tens of millions more on a failed inventory data system; implementing the now-defunct wine kiosk program despite recommendations against it; and launching an advertising campaign about alcohol consumption, basically blaming victims for date rape.
            The lawmaker cited these examples as proof of the systemic problems of a government agency trying to act like a business.
            “Only a business can act like a business and be successful,” Rep. Turzai said.
            A Public Financial Management study shows the PLCB’s profitability will continue to decline in the coming years and that only a privatized system affords the state the best opportunity for real customer convenience and optimal financial benefits for Pennsylvania’s residents.
            The current monopoly system was created in 1933 by then-Gov. Gifford Pinchot, who said the PLCB’s mission was to make liquor sales “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” Currently only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control over wholesale and retail operations.
New Liquor System Proposed In House
Amended Bill: Keep State Stores, Sell Wine At Beer Distributors
Revised Liquor Privatization Bill Advances In House
More Options To Buy Wine, Beer Moves In House Bill