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 []

A Watered-Down Booze Bill Could Hit Corbett’s Desk Within Weeks

Looks like no RIP for the PLCB this year. PennLive reports that House majority whip Stan Saylor, formerly a staunch supporter of the full privatization of Pennsylvania liquor sales, has expressed a new willingness to compromise with his Republican colleagues in the Senate and move forward with a plan to bring wine and beer sales only to grocery and convenience stores:

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Should Government Provide Services … or Jobs?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Quick question: What’s government for, anyway?

There are lots of answers to that question, of course, but for the sake of argument, let’s boil it down to two possible answers in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania:

• Government’s job is to provide certain services to the public, a byproduct of which is also providing jobs to a number of people.

• Government’s job is to provide jobs to a number of people, a byproduct of which is also providing services to the public.

In the real world, the answer is probably a little bit of both — conservative fantasies of bare bones governance notwithstanding. The problem around here is that we’ve drifted a little too close to the second answer being the right one.

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