Will Pennsylvania’s Senate Republicans Sellout Consumers?
March 27, 2013:
The Pennsylvania House has passed legislation aimed at dismantling our prohibition-era state store system and improving convenience for consumers.You might think it would be smooth sailing through the Republican controlled Senate.
Sadly, you would be wrong.
In general there is remarkably little interest in the Senate for the privatizing the state stores and improving convenience. As noted in a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial:
"Although the latest privatization debate has gone on for years – and is only the latest of several pushes to dismantle the Prohibition-era system – Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) noted puzzlingly that the issue had not been a matter of "active interest and discussion" in his chamber."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette echoed that sentiment (emphasis added):
"It’s now up to the Senate, where the top Republicans, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, have not been champions of privatization. Yet the liquor initiative, which is pro-business and pro-smaller government, goes to the core of Republicanism. If they can’t back these principles in this legislation, they have no right leading their caucus. Can they even be Republicans?"
It is worth noting that the Inquirer and the Post-Gazette are not known for being conservative mouth pieces.
The overall ambivalence by Senate Republicans toward liquor store privatization is disconcerting. However, a bigger problem is the hostility toward the House bill expressed by the Chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, Senator Charles "Chuck" McIlhinney:
"State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney told a group of Upper Bucks business leaders on Friday that he would have voted against the liquor privatization bill passed by House lawmakers the previous day.
"McIlhinney, R-10, is chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which oversees the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board."
In Sen. McIlhinney’s world, the problem with the current system is not that the government sells and markets alcohol. Nor, does he see a problem with a government sanctioned monopoly (ok, technically an oligopoly) for the wholesale and distribution of beer. Rather, the problem is that too few prohibition-era state stores are open on Sundays. He would also support allowing the current beer cartel to sell wine and spirits, but only as long as grocery stores and gas station are prohibited from selling beer. Basically, he supports expanding the distributors’ monopoly.
We would encourage you to contact Sen. McIlhinney:
Email: [email protected]
Tell him that Pennsylvanians deserve real choice and real convenience.
Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) is a non-profit organization founded to raise the standard of living of all Pennsylvanians by restoring limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility. By empowering the Commonwealth’s employers