If This Bill Passes, Privately-Owned Liquor Stores Could Finally Be a Thing in Philly


Less than a year ago, Governor Tom Wolf signed a pretty big-deal liquor reform bill allowing grocery stores, restaurants and hotels that already sold beer to sell wine bottles, too. It was quite the game-changer for our dining scene because it allowed our restaurants and bottle shops to sell wine to-go the same way a private wine shop would — a luxury this city aches for.

And we were so pleased when it passed. Wine-focused spots like Jet Wine Bar and Tria started selling bottles you couldn’t find in your local Fine Wine & Good Spirits store — fun stuff to pacify our passionate wine drinkers.

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee got the reform ball rolling again — this time for liquor.

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Pennsylvania Restaurateurs Want Cheaper Booze

PA Wine blog 10_image

Following what seemed to be a successful hearing before the House Liquor Control Board in Harrisburg regarding wholesale pricing (and a wholesale relationship in general) between Pennsylvania restaurant and bar owners and the distributors who supply the booze, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) has been encouraging members of the hospitality industry to reach out to Pennsylvania senators and representatives.

The near-term hope is that changes to the PLCB system can be made part of the budget negotiations. The bigger wish? That PA restaurant folk can get something more like a fair shake when it comes to buying the hooch and Jesus juice that we all love so much. And you know what? We’re with them on this one.

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Why The Latest Liquor Privatization Bill Might Actually Pass


Yes, we’ve heard a million times before that the Pennsylvania Legislature is mulling a liquor privatization bill. A million times before, it’s gone nowhere. So why highlight the latest bill from Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican?

Answer: Precisely because it’s originating in the Senate, where previous House attempts at privatization have long gone to die. Read more »

No One Outside Of Pennsylvania Understands The PLCB

plcb_champagneAs a matter of fact, issues surrounding the PLCB (and efforts to curtail, privatize or simply abolish it) can get so weird and so confusing that the folks over at Lucky Peach recently brought in local food writer and man-about-town Drew Lazor to explain some things–including why Pennsylvanians were so excited when we were told that we could finally buy beer in 12-packs, which is something that most other Americans can do whenever and wherever they damn well please.

The Philadelphia Daily News described it as “stunning.” An attorney specializing in liquor law lauded it as “revolutionary.” “This is the biggest thing to happen to beer since 1933,” a Pittsburgh beer distributor told the Associated Press.

What are these Pennsylvanians describing with such exultant glee?

In March 2015, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the omnipotent governing body for booze in the Keystone State, decreed that beer distributors, for the first time since the repeal of the 18th Amendment, were allowed to sell twelve-packs.

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Pa. Senator: I’ll Introduce New Liquor Privatization Bill


Scott Wagner, who last year won a special election to the Pennsylvania Senate as a write-in candidate, is attempting to do what many politicians have tried to do before and failed: Privatize the state’s liquor system.

On Tuesday, Wagner began circulating a co-sponsorship memo saying he would be introducing legislation that would privatize the liquor system “in the near future.”

Wagner, a Republican who has spent heavily supporting pro-business candidates in the past, said that “private enterprise always does a better job selling a product than government” and the current state store system “is wholly inadequate for Pennsylvania consumers.” Read more »

Republicans Restart Liquor Privatization Efforts


Republicans in Harrisburg have restarted their efforts to privatize the state’s liquor system.

AP reports:

House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, announced Tuesday a privatization bill will be voted in the last week in February, nearly two years after a passing similar measure that subsequently died in the Senate.

Reed said the legislation could generate about $1 billion to help balance the 2015-16 state budget. The final product, he said, will need to be something that compares favorably with consumer convenience available in other states.

“We view this as a starting point,” Reed said. “We understand it’s not an ending point.”

But it’ll be a battle. Tribune-Review:
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PLCB Pays State a Half-Billion Dollars

Here’s the best reason for leaving Pennsylvania’s liquor sales in the hands of the state: Selling booze makes a lot of money for Harrisburg’s bank account.

Newsworks reports:

The agency that controls liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania has transferred a record $526 million to the state government’s main bank account.

A report issued Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says the total for the year ending June 30 is $13 million, or 2.5 percent, higher than the previous year’s transfer.

Most of that revenue comes from state liquor and sales taxes, but it also includes profits of $80 million that was transferred early at Gov. Tom Corbett’s request while this year’s state budget plan was being assembled.

PLCB adds:

In addition to $526 million in contributions to the General Fund, the agency also remitted $8.3 million in local taxes to Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, $25 million to the Pennsylvania State Police, $2.5 million to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and $4.5 million in licensing fees returned to local municipalities.

Some of that money would surely be lost if the system were privatized. That deosn’t mean the system shouldn’t be privatized, but the difficulty of replacing that revenue is the best argument that defenders of the status quo have to make.

Pa. Bill Would Decriminalize Transporting Booze Across State Lines

Arthur Goldman may get a bit of redemption after all.

You remember Goldman: He’s the Chester County attorney who was accused of bootlegging after he had rare fine wines shipped to his home from out of state — in violation of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board rules — and selling some bottles to friends. Authorities say the nearly 2,500 bottles of wine seized from Goldman will be destroyed, per state law.

Now there’s a move afoot in the Pennsylvania House to decriminalize the importation of liquor and spirits from across state lines.

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New Liquor Reform Plan Before Senate Panel

Ryan McVay

Ryan McVay

There’s another liquor reform bill being reviewed right now, and this one is…

Well, not a lot different than most of the other ones, actually. It’s just more futzing around with who is allowed to do what and where. Far from comprehensive reform, in other words.

But it’s something, right? And Joel Mathis has the details over on the Philly mag news blog.

Another Day, Another Liquor Reform Bill [Phillymag.com]

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