Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) issued the following statement Thursday in response to the House passage of his liquor privatization bill— House Bill 1690-- by a vote of 110 to 86.
The bill is nearly the same as House Bill 466 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) the Governor vetoed in July. That bill passed the House 114 to 87.
“Once again, House Republicans led the charge to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century,” said Speaker Turzai. “This bill would responsibly and completely divest the state from both the wholesale and retail sale of wine and spirits and remove government from an archaic system that burdens taxpayers.”
The bill would allow current beer distributors right of first refusal of permits to sell both wine and spirits at their establishments. It also would permit restaurants and hotels to sell wine and spirits, and grocery stores to sell wine.
Speaker Turzai highlighted the most recent evidence that the Liquor Control Board’s conflict of interest in both selling and regulating is costing Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Just days ago, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board required the Liquor Control Board to fully account for its liabilities. The audit found the PLCB is $238.7 million in the red, mostly due to its state employees’ pension plan costing $362.7 million annually.
This is more than four times its typical annual return of tax revenues.
Speaker Turzai encouraged the Senate to pass the legislation as they did in June. He is also calling upon the governor to sign the legislation when it arrives at his desk.
“The governor has demanded an increase in revenues, and this measure does that with broad-based bipartisan support among the public,” he said.Pennsylvania still remains one of only two states where government has full control of both retail and wholesale sale of wine and liquor.