Lawmakers are introducing a new measure aimed at getting the state out of the booze business.
Senate Democrat Tim Sheldon is proposing the state privatize liquor sales. "Immediately, you would save the $53 million or so that it costs to operate state run liquor stores with state employees. This is a luxury that we can't afford in our state."
Sheldon said the system can be set up just like in other states that allow liquor sales in grocery and convenience stores.
The liquor control board would continue its enforcement efforts. "It could be done in a very safe, controlled way using the private sector outlets. The taxation would still be collected by the state, the regulation would be made by the state," said Sheldon.
The proposal will get its first vetting when lawmakers return to Olympia in January.
See...no. That's why I really worry about the caliber of legislator in this state. This is not something the LCB "would have to drive." The PLCB has already done a lot towards allowing this kind of thing; they've granted licenses in a surprisingly liberal manner to Wegmans, Giant Eagle, Sheetz, and others. This is one area where I've got nothing but praise for the PLCB. They've been ready for years, and they're pretty clear about it:
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said groceries and convenience stores could have offered beer decades ago.Hays is right: it's the code. Which, Representative Goodman's limited knowledge -- or deliberate obfuscation -- to the contrary, is something that has to be changed by the Legislature.
"The market changed. The law has not," said Nick Hays, a spokesman for the PLCB."The Pennsylvania liquor code does not address whether supermarkets may or may not sell alcohol. It doesn't permit them; it doesn't not permit them."
There's no need to bury it in a committee for thinking it out thoroughly, either (like they did with that "sixpack law" we were supposed to get two years ago). We've thought it out thoroughly, time and time again, and then nothing gets done. Which has nothing to do with the "thought out thoroughly" part, except the bits that deal with the political calculus. Your legislators want to please you, but mostly they don't want to piss off industry groups like the tavern owners or the beer wholesalers. The whole purpose of this blog is to change that equation.
Readers...if you're an interested citizen, write your legislator. It's easy, go do it (type your ZIP code in the box, and you'll get e-mail contact to Da Gov and your state legislators). If you're a reporter, please, please, please, take my ideas, take my passion, steal it with no attribution, but use it. Hammer at this ridiculous system, at the convoluted crap of The Almighty Liquor Code, at the entrenched stalinist edifice of the State Store System, at the arrogant monopolist attitude of Joe "CEO" Conti, at the wasteful and questionable spending on the Courtesy Contract and the Great Table Leaf Re-Branding.
Because the time is as ripe as it has ever been. Yuengling COO Dave Casinelli nailed it recently: "Ultimately, the consumers will speak," he said. "There's a groundswell out there. Both sides are kind of a stand-off right now." Damn straight. Why should Washington have all the fun?