Amended Liquor Sales Bill Going To House

liquor salesThe House Liquor Control Committee held a hearing Monday regarding Governor Corbett’s liquor sales privatization plan.  The committee voted along party lines (14-10) to scale down Governor Corbett’s current proposal.  House Bill 790 made it out of committee by another party-line vote despite Democrats’ call for further modifications.

Now slated for debate on the House floor, this is the furthest a liquor privatization bill has ever made it through the legislative process in Pennsylvania.

The amendment added in committee was introduced by State Representative Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny).  It is 35 pages in length and precludes pharmacies, convenience, grocery and big-box stores from obtaining a beer license unless they first acquire a restaurant license (in Corbett’s proposal, no restaurant license was required).

The modified plan also calls for a more gradual shift from a state-run  system to a private system by not proceeding with full privatization until less than 100 of Pennsylvania’s 600 currently state-operated stores remain under the state system, at which point the system would shut down.

Beer distributors would also have the option to pay $1,000 to sell in quantities smaller than cases or kegs.  Restaurants and venues with similar licensing could purchase a retail package reform license for $500 to sell up to 24 bottles of beer.

Under the same amendment, the prohibition on alcohol sales at gas stations would be lifted and grocery stores would be able to sell wine.  Wholesale licenses would be available one year following the potential law’s enactment, and the license costs would be based on gross profit margins.

Responses to the amendment varied and centered around time and logistics; Republicans are eager to start the process of privatization while Democrats say it is too much, too soon.  Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) said, “People want convenience, this legislation delivers chaos.”

Governor Corbett was supportive of the bill in spite of the alterations and stated “we have a long way to go, but their vote today starts us down the path to do something truly historic.”


The House is scheduled to take up the bill for debate this afternoon (Wednesday).  A vote is expected no earlier than Thursday.

10 Responses

  1. There is going to be a battle in the Senate over this. There are no less than four GOP votes against privatization at the moment. What passes the Senate may wind up being a more modernized PLCB, but with the stores remaining. It may not be reconcilable with the House.

    I had one GOP senator (who isn’t one of the four in the SE) tell me that he feels that if people don’t like the way we sell alcohol in PA, they should move to Jersey or Maryland. I wonder if his tune changes now…or not?

  2. There is going to be a battle in the Senate over this. There are no less than four GOP votes against privatization at the moment. What passes the Senate may wind up being a more modernized PLCB, but with the stores remaining. It may not be reconcilable with the House.

  3. So, no beer at Wawa like there is in Virginia, Maryland, and Florida? What a shame.

  4. I think Democrats need to get behind this measure in some form, or propose reasonable alternatives that don’t simply protect the status quo. I have been involved with Democrats to the point of running my local party, but this lock step support of the clerks union is quickly turning me off. I’m sorry that they will lost their jobs, but the system is terrible and I demand better. I doubt I am the only Democrat who feels this way.

  5. This is HUGE…but….

    One of the key-concerns articulated by Castor is that the legislature has not been sufficiently productive.

    If/when this effort is signed-off–although the purchasing-component may remain a monopsony–the elimination of the monopoly will redound favorably upon Corbett [and it won’t matter what his salary has been or what perks-of-office he has received].

    More remains [e.g., Pension Bomb] but, notwithstanding naysayers [such as those who have posted here], the primary race will remain Corbett’s to lose [despite poll-numbers].

    Yet, I still think he won’t be perceived as having “clinched” the renomination until he has tackled [in more detail than he evinced during friendly questioning yesterday by Dom Giordano on 1210] the Sandusky issue.

    He can’t simply claim that “everyone is busy and our endproduct is great” or that “the pace of discovery doesn’t fit into the mold of an hourlong TV show” when he is accused of having assigned insufficient personnel for an extended time-frame to a task regarding a child-molester [remaining at-large] that he chose to present to a Grand Jury.

    Corbett is methodical, but time-is-tight!

  6. @ Roger Lund,

    Race to the bottom? Then we’re on our way to be in next to last place because PA and Utah are the only two remaining “fully state-controlled liquor systems.” (And need I remind you that Utah is 58% teetotaler Mormon.)

    Liquor control wasn’t meant to be a public sector jobs program. It was intended to make access to liquor in Pennsylvania nearly impossible after the 21st Amendment.

  7. Roger…a race to the bottom would include paying for unsustainable entitlements like “pensions” for people that we don’t want to. I can save my own money just fine thanks…

  8. Yeah, let’s get into the 21st Century. This is a place where no one has pensions. No one has a real way to retire. No one has job stability. Yeah, that’s really something to aspire to.

    Here we are on a race to the bottom. Sickening.

  9. The government gets out of liquor, then we get out of paying more pensions! Why has this not been done sooner? I can’t wait for the future when the PA government is OUT of the liquor business. Adios Wine and Spirits!

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