FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2013
PA Chamber: House’s historic vote another step closer to ending Pa.’s 80-year liquor monopoly
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today applauded state House lawmakers for advancing a responsible plan to gradually get the Commonwealth out of the retail and wholesale liquor sales business.
House Bill 790 passed the House by a vote of 105 to 90, sending the privatization debate to the state Senate.
"The Pennsylvania Chamber believes, as do many Pennsylvanians, that the sale of alcohol is not a core function of state government and would be better handled by the private sector," PA Chamber President Gene Barr said. "A responsible private system as is contained in House Bill 790 would improve the buying experience for customers, continue to generate revenue for the Commonwealth and allow the state to focus on its appropriate enforcement role."
Similar to the proposal unveiled by Gov. Tom Corbett in February, House Bill 790 would provide for more gradual privatization of the state store system, including wholesale operations.
The bill would put in motion a plan to phase out the state-owned wine and spirits stores, including a provision that requires all state stores to close when the total number statewide becomes less than 100.
The legislation would give existing beer distributors the first chance to purchase 1,200 licenses that will be available to sell wine and liquor. Beer distributors would also be able to sell six-packs, 12-packs and "growlers."
After one year, the public would have a chance to purchase licenses.
The bill would also give grocery stores the ability to sell wine, and those with a restaurant license to sell beer.
Barr said the PA Chamber also supports proposals contained in the measure to assist current state store employees, including education grants, and tax incentives for businesses that hire former state workers.
"We thank the governor for presenting a solid framework for the privatization debate, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, Liquor Control Committee Chairman John Taylor and House lawmakers for their work to develop an agreed-to plan in an effort to move this process forward," Barr said. "It is long past time to end Pennsylvania’s liquor monopoly by placing wholesale and retail liquor sales in the capable hands of the private sector. Doing so will give Pennsylvania consumers the greater level of convenience and choice they desire.
"We urge the state Senate to follow the House’s lead and send a comprehensive privatization bill to the governor."
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy organization, with its membership comprising thousands of businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business™.