Friday, June 15, 2012

Ugliness - What Happened to Privatization

I got a copy of the Capitolwire report on what happened to HB11, the privatization bill. It's a subscription service, so I can't/won't reprint the whole thing here, but here are some pertinent points...
Beer distributors matter to Republican lawmakers. The one who mattered most in this particular fracas is the King of SEPTA and Lord of the Turnpike, Pat Deon. In addition to those two big-ticket, patronage-filled jobs, Deon owns beer distributorships in Bucks County.
It is not clear how many of the seven Bucks GOP votes Deon withheld from Turzai. Personally, I think Reps. Frank Farry, Gene DiGirolamo and Scott Petri, all Bucks County Republicans, vote no if Mr. Deon did not exist. All have a pro-union voting history, although Gene and Scott boast a longer and fuller one than Farry.
It really sounds like the bill sank because Turzai screwed up by pushing too hard -- without listening to other legislators -- and by ham-handedly adding beer to the bill without proper thought about what 'beer' might actually want.
Turzai's bill is hated by beer distributors who think it does too little for them, costs them too much, makes them change their business too much, and gives too much to two of their rivals: restaurants/bars and supermarkets.
As Daniel Rubin pointed out in the Inquirer yesterday, most Pennsylvanians want to get rid of the State Stores, but it doesn't happen because the people who are happy with the way it is are more vocal and effective.
I asked them why it was taking so long to blow up a Prohibition-era system so many people loathe.
"For many parties, the system wasn't that broken," Waldfogel said. "And there were some parties for whom the system was wonderful."
The beer distributors and the union very much like it the way it is, and it is so important to them that they are putting the smack-dab on the legislators. As long as we're "only voters," we're screwed, and stuck with this worthless, stupid system that treats us like teenagers and tells us what we're allowed to buy.

What happens next? Probably nothing, though Turzai claims he'll bring it up again. The chances that he will have changed his leadership style sufficiently to pull it off are slim. So we have a bill on the floor that no one seems to want enough to pass, and...
The bill would have been sent back to committee Monday had not Taylor literally run down the aisle yelling, "I don't want it! I don't want it!"That was the only area of agreement between Taylor and Turzai regarding the bill: Turzai didn't want to have to get it out of committee again and Taylor didn't want it back.
Sounds like we're boned. As I've said before, this is not a good bill, and it infuriates me that now "privatization" is associated with it. We had a lot of good people and effort involved in this push, and it looks like it's been pissed away. I hope the Governor puts a bill forward.

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