Amid Legislative Failure, Corbett to Introduce Liquor Privatization
All the way back in August 2011, a source told Philadelphia Weekly that if the Rep. Mike Turzai’s (R-Allegheny) liquor privatization bill failed, Gov. Corbett would strike at the Legislature and introduce his own legislation. Who would have thought it’d actually come to that?
On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett will announce his very own liquor privatization bill from Pittsburgh, and while the details are a bit shady as of now, here’s what we do know, via a Philadelphia Inquirer article published 10 days ago:
… Corbett envisions auctioning off both the wholesale and retail operations of the LCB, much as House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) had proposed last year in a bill that died for lack of support… officials wanted to auction off State Stores and offer some of the licenses to beer distributors, who now can sell beer only by the case or the keg. Groceries, too, would be allowed to apply to sell wine and beer, as would convenience stores and big-box stores such as Walmart and Costco.
… Corbett is considering allowing for 2,000 retail outlets. As it stands, Pennsylvania has just over 600 wine-and-spirits stores and some 1,200 retail beer distributors. Under the administration’s tentative plan, beer distributors would be the only ones allowed to sell the booze trio: beer, wine, hard liquor. Grocery, convenience, and big-box stores could sell only wine and beer.
Other than that, it’s argumentation as usual. Most, if not all, Democrats do not support such legislation, and not just because it’d help break up UFCW Local 1776’s hold on liquor store employment. There are a mess of reasons and they’ll all likely be considered as the governor’s bill oozes its way into the Capitol building. (Equality PA, for instance, is against privatization because Pennsylvania’s LGBT community is covered from discrimination in employment at the state, not private, level.) As per a June 2012 PW blog:
Twenty-one U.S. states currently have sexual orientation employment discrimination laws on the books. Pennsylvania is one of five with discrimination laws in place for just public employees.
But if state stores are privatized, liquor store employees will no longer be state employees and, therefore, will not be privileged to these protections throughout the state, unless they live in one of the several local municipalities which have passed their own ordinances. Those include Philadelphia, Allegheny County, Allentown, Harrisburg, State College, Lancaster, York, and others.
Liquor privatization has been a controversial state issue since it was first put into law—back in 1933, when Prohibition ended and Pennsylvania’s Quaker governor wanted to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” More to come.