HARRISBURG – The House today voted in favor of legislation sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) aimed at reforming the way alcoholic beverages are sold in Pennsylvania. This fiscally responsible and consumer-driven wine and spirits privatization legislation would end the post-Prohibition state store system put in place by Pennsylvania’s then pro-temperance governor, Gifford Pinchot.
“The House of Representatives once again voted to end an antiquated, unnecessary and burdensome system,” Turzai said. “Pennsylvanians demand change and have been voting on this issue with their wallets by leaving their money in other states that can provide what they want at a fair price. The current system is not based on what is best for the consumer, but on protecting a myriad of special interests who have a stake in this monopolistic system.
“It is time to get government out of the alcohol business once and for all and move Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”
House Bill 466, in essence the same bill that passed the House last session, includes a series of reforms for beer, liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania. The bill allows beer distributers to expand their businesses to sell liquor and wine, as well as beer. The bill also allows private wine wholesalers to sell products to Commonwealth customers. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would still operate state stores until retail outlets are double the numbers of current state-operated outlets.
“Only a business can act like a business and be successful,” Turzai said. “Government has many responsibilities, such as providing an education, safe communities and clean air and water, but selling wine and liquor is not one of them. We need to get the state out of the business of buying and selling alcohol.”
The current monopoly system was created in 1933 by Pinchot, who said the PLCB’s mission was to make liquor sales “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” Currently only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control over wholesale and retail wine and liquor operations.
The legislation passed by a vote of 114-87 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.