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Liquor Privatization Bill to be Introduced March 4

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai will introduce a bill on March 4 to shut the state liquor stores in favor of private retailers.

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, is circulating a legislative memo to gather signatures in support of his soon-to-be-introduced liquor privatization measure that would shutter the state-owned liquor stores as the only place where Pennsylvanians can buy booze.

The bill will be introduced on March 4 as HB 790.

The bill “will provide consumers in Pennsylvania with greater selection, better prices, and more convenient access to wine, spirits and beer,” according to Turzai.

His plan would allow grocery stores and pharmacies to sell 6-packs of beer and bottles of wine, convenience stores to sell 6-packs of beer and so-called “big box retail stores” like Wal-Mart to sell bottles of wine and beer by the case.

Licensing fees for those establishments would range from $10,000 annually to $35,000 annually, depending on the type of store.

Beer distributors, which can currently sell beer by the case and keg only, would be allowed to purchase an additional license for $150,000 to gain the ability to sell wine and 6-packs of beer.

Finally, there would be 1,200 licenses auctioned off to create private liquor stores, and beer distributors would be able to bid for those licenses to become a one-stop shop for beer, wine and hard alcohol.

The proposal also ensures the licenses would be auctioned by county and would ensure there would be at least as many private liquors in each county as there are currently state-run liquor stores.

Gov. Tom Corbett outlined the basics of the liquor privatization plan last month, but this is the first time the specifics have been put in black and white.  Corbett also proposed to use the revenue from the sale of the liquor licenses to fund a new $1 billion block grant program for school districts over four years, a proposal Turzai says he supports.

In the state Senate, Republican leaders have indicated they want to also pursue a parallel course of “modernization” that would keep the existing liquor monopoly in place but would open up some of the rules about who can sell what.

The biggest opposition to the liquor proposal will come from unions, most importantly the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents most of the employees in the state-owned liquor stores.

Union boss Wendell Young IV said the UFCW will continue its fight to protect the jobs of its members, the revenues generated by the stores for all Pennsylvania’s taxpayers, and the communities that would be endangered by privatization.

Richelle February 25, 2013 at 07:00 PM
It's about time!!!
Roller G February 26, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Really need to bring the prices down.
Amber Maureen Zimmerman February 26, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Okay will walmart be able to sell beer 24 hours or what
Cee Knobs February 26, 2013 at 03:03 AM
seriously....how can anyone think that selling and buying beer/wine etc,,,at walmarts and other chains will be a good idea.... its just more locations for people to be irresponsible....i mean its perfect for the dum dum that picks up their scrip and a six pack....why not just sell pot and wawa!!!! Save the sales for the state stores...i sure as hell dont need to be in one of these stores with my sons and dealing with a drunk wanting more of the drink!!!!
concerned citizen February 26, 2013 at 03:59 AM
The foreigners are packing their belongings and ready to come here and take all the liquor licenses just like they got all the other buisnesses in the country, So get ready for an influx of more foreigners selling you your liquor, to go with your gas and donuts.
kim February 26, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Ok. So think about it this way. When and if they privatize the system expect to pay more in taxes once that 2 billion is gone. Which won't take long. The PLCB puts millions of dollars back into the state of PA. Prices won't be cheaper because you will still see the Johnstown tax on your wine or spirits. Over 5,000 people will be out of a job. Which means they will all suck up unemployment for 2 years. There are a lot of organizations that are against privatization. And are you people that much of alcoholics that you have to by your liquor at a Wawa or Walmart? Beer distributors are not happy about this either. They would have to pay $100,000 dollars , but yet Walmart would only have to pay $30,000 for a licensee. Also, bars and restaurants are not happy with the thought of privatization either. So the only people that are really for this privatization are people that do not work for the PLCB or work in a bar, restaurant or beer distributor. And you have may people that work with MADD , Banks and other AA associations that don't want to see thems happen.
Marc February 26, 2013 at 04:39 AM
Honestly, the choices of vines in PA sucks...this is why a lot of people go to NJ...
Jeff Lugar February 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Oh, grow up. Supermarkets and Walmarts aren't going to be filled with drunk people just because they can sell liquor and wine. It's just going to make life easier for someone wanting to grab a bottle of wine to go with dinner and now being able to get it the same place they buy the salad and meat for their meal.
D C Signs February 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM
I grew up in NJ and when we moved here 20 years ago I was amazed that one could NOT purchase a six pack of beer at a beer distributor!!...but I could get a case if I wanted to! Ridiculous! I had to go to a bar to get a six pack around here.
mork February 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM
AGAIN WE HAVE COMMENTS FROM IDIOTS THAT THEIR ONLY CONCERN IS EASY AVAILABILITY. MORE IMPORTANT TOPICS ARE. #1 CORRUPTION BY BIG BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT. YOU HAVE NO CLUE !
kim February 26, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Thanks Mork! Some people are clueless.
frank j. ezokas February 26, 2013 at 02:01 PM
As far as the employee's who currently work in these State Stores, when these stores close down, Mr. Young the Union President should make concessions with the state asking them to have these employee's be hired by those who want to open up their private stores. Most of the current employee's have some knowledge on Spirits, they would be an asset.
Joe February 26, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Your comment is very much a knee-jerk reaction. You must be a life long PA resident or not travel very much. PA is one of the few states that is so restrictive in general. Having lived most of my life in NY where beer is in regular stores, Walmarts etc; none of your examples are ever true, and my family loves to jab about it when they visit about how odd it feels to not see it. Your 'pot in wawa' point is a textbook slippery slope logical fallacy. I guess you don't shop at Wegman's around here either...PA is more the exception than the rule. Look around, educate yourself, life will carry on as usual.
kim February 26, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Frank, do you really think any of the state employees Would work under another establishment? Conti already has stated that companies that hire PLCB employees will receive a tax cut. But I have asked many employees and they all said that they will not work for companies like Walmart and smaller establishments.
Sunday Scotch February 26, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Instead of privatization, how about repealing the damn blue laws.
kim February 26, 2013 at 10:22 PM
They were talking about opening certain stores on Sunday from 9am-9pm. Do not know what is the latest about that thought.
John Doe February 26, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Your right Kim. Why would any state store employee work for a private retailer for half as much as they will get in unemployment?
the VOICE February 27, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Right on !
the VOICE February 27, 2013 at 05:14 PM
You people have no compassion for the employees, many that have spent their whole working life at the LCB !
the VOICE February 27, 2013 at 05:16 PM
All you care about is Getting your Booze at a more convenient hours and a bigger selection. What do we have here a bunch of Lushes ?
xb mike February 27, 2013 at 05:34 PM
i like to know when the stores will carry (Popcorn Sutton white whiskey)
Michael Hicks February 27, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Hey guy. Why are you shouting? Tell us why you think privatizing beer and wine sales will lead to greater corruption. You may actually get an intelligent response. Try it.
Michael Hicks February 27, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Please clue me in to why it is "bad" for the state of PA to relinquish control of a business and introduce true competition? Shouldn't the fate of businesses be in the hands of free enterprise instead of government control? For one I am looking forward to the day I can not only see a greater selection of wine and spirits in our stores but also see the comingling of wine-related events at such stores (wine and cheese parties, upscale tastings, etc.). Also, is it really too much to ask a store to sell not only the drinks but then also acoutrements like Reidel glasses or even wine cellars? There are great possibilities in store for privatization. As for those who are decrying privatization for fear of current workers losing their jobs, I sympathize with that perspective. Perhaps in the effort to privatize the state can strike a deal with each new independent operator that they must retain current workers (at competitive rates, though) for a period of at least a year? Something can be done to ease the transition.
Michael Hicks February 27, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Sorry but change happens. They cannot depend upon status quo for their whole lives, no more so than what I can. Take matters into your own hands. Become trained in something else that's marketable and stop relying upon a Union to fix your wage free you from having to improvise, adapt, and overcome changes that happen in the marketplace.

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