Is that what we're going to be calling the liquor "privatization" bill that comes out of the Senate's Law and Justice Committee next week? Senator Chuck McIlhinney is the majority chair of the committee, and he's telling anyone who will listen that he'll have a bill ready before the end of the legislative session on June 30, a privatization bill.
He's held three hearings -- generally described as "stacked" by reporters across the state, and they mean stacked against privatization -- in which he allowed the Democratic members of the committee free rein to pontificate, bloviate, and in Senator Ferlo's case, desecrate the reputations of several public figures, including the commander of the PA State Police. Only a few people who favored privatization who were allowed to speak, and at the end of their presentations and following grilling, McIlhinney would dismiss their testimony with a breezy "that's what you're saying, but that's not what's going to happen" statement from his chairman's position.
McIlhinney says he held these hearings to bring out the facts so he and his colleagues could make a decision on privatization. Really? First, be honest and admit that NO Democrats will vote for privatization, no matter what they hear: on this issue they're owned by the unions, and they do NOT want to see the Governor gain any legislative victories when they sense his re-election chances as weak. Those are their main issues. Second, everything McIlhinney's been saying indicates that his bill is going to be the same bizarre plan he's been talking about for almost two years.
Best guess at that, from things he's been saying: bars and restaurants should be allowed to sell full bottles of wine and spirits to go, the State Stores stay open, the case law stays and the beer in grocery stores situation remains in its ridiculous "cafe needed" state, and the PLCB remains as the state's sole wholesaler...and that's going to be "privatization," McIlhinney's Mistake-style.
Tell your Senator you want REAL privatization, not McIlhinney's Mistake. You want the State Stores gone in six months, Washington State style. You want privatization of wholesale. You want beer, wine, and spirits sold in the same store, and at least 2,000 of those stores -- whatever they are -- in the state. You want an immediate and simple end to the Case Law and its stupid brother, the 12-pack Law. You want an immediate end to the Police-Enforced Monopoly; Pennsylvanians can buy booze anywhere they want and bring it back into the state. And you want it all, now.
If the Senator comes out with a real privatization bill? GREAT! But we need to get this done. We can't afford a mistake. Not McIlhinney's Mistake.