House Committee Advances Liquor Reform

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Bills Would Break Government Stranglehold Over Wine & Liquor Sales
April 18, 2017, Harrisburg, Pa.—Today, the House Liquor Committee advanced two bills to the floor that represent a major step toward ending Pennsylvania’s government liquor monopoly. HB 975 builds on last year’s wine expansion legislation and HB 1075 would get state government completely out of the wholesale wine and liquor business. Both bills are sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, a long-time advocate of liquor privatization
"This legislation is a major step toward breaking state government’s stranglehold over wine and liquor sales," commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO of the Commonwealth Foundation. "Wholesale competition would deliver better selection and lower prices, which is exactly what Pennsylvanians want to see. It’s past time for Pennsylvania to join the 48 states that don’t have a state-run monopoly and get government out of the booze business."

While legislation enacted last year allows restaurants and some grocery stores with a restaurant section to sell—for the first time since Prohibition—bottles of wine to consumers, retail stores must still purchase their wine from the government-run Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).
The state’s wholesale monopoly means there won’t be lower prices stemming from competition, as the PLCB imposes a markup on every bottle. It also means a handful of bureaucrats determine which products are available in all state liquor stores. This power has resulted in many examples of corruption, including companies trying to influence PLCB officials through gifts and trips to strip clubs.

Nathan Benefield and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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