Pa. House GOP criticizes liquor sales earnings as price gouging

Source: Katie Meyer, Newsworks, September 28, 2017
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has posted this year’s earnings, and they’re higher than ever.  Despite overhead cost increases, the PLCB said the revenues are a sign the industry is healthy.  But House Republicans — who have long wanted to privatize liquor sales — said it just amounts to price gouging.  As lawmakers search under couch cushions for money to balance a stalled state budget, the PLCB’s been chipping in more and more cash. A record-setting $216 million last fiscal year was more than double the previous year’s contribution.  It’s slated to pay a little less this year, but the number is still high. …


House approves bill to sell state’s liquor wholesale system
Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, April 25, 2017

House Republicans on Tuesday pushed ahead a set of changes to how alcohol is sold in the state, moving to privatize wholesale wine and spirits sales and expand the retail outlets where booze is available. Lawmakers voted 105-84 in favor of the wholesale divestment proposal, sending it with other proposals to the Senate for its consideration. The House voted to allow more grocery stores to seek permits to sell wine, no longer restricting the permits to stores with seating capacity, and retailers would be able to buy wine from brokers in the private sector. …

Pennsylvania Republicans Set Up Push For Liquor Privatization
Source: Katie Meyer, WSKG, April 19, 2017

State House Republicans are attempting to chart a new course for liquor sales in Pennsylvania, pushing a traditionally state-run system further and further toward privatization. The as-yet-unknown revenue from that change is also expected to play a key role in balancing the caucus’s proposed budget.  As of Monday, four different GOP-led proposals are awaiting votes on the House floor.  The House Liquor Control Committee just passed House Bills 975 and 1075. The former would stop Pennsylvania from wine wholesaling, and the latter–which is even broader–would take the commonwealth out of both wine and liquor sales entirely. …

Pa.’s answer to privatizing booze sales? Bigger, better state stores
Source: Maria Panaritis, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 29, 2016

A law enacted this year lets Pennsylvanians for the first time buy wine at hundreds of grocery stores and gas stations, and online. Republican leaders who control the legislature insist total privatization remains their goal. Yet here was Rose, browsing in one of dozens of State Stores opened or upgraded this year. Bigger and nicer than the one it replaced. And an example of how the LCB, created in the 1930s to regulate alcohol, has responded to the intensifying calls for its disbandment. Rose, a 52-year-old engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, said he agrees with privatization. But if the LCB is here to stay, he said, “I’d rather have a new store.” … Twelve months ago, the LCB had 600 stores. By year’s end, it will have 610. In the next five years, that number could be as high as 630. Two are coming to the Philadelphia area before Christmas: one with a grand opening Tuesday on Edgmont Avenue in Brookhaven, Delaware County, and a second at 1515 Locust St., near Rittenhouse Square, on Dec. 15. The LCB says this is all consistent with the June law enacted by Gov. Wolf and the legislature – even though it diluted the LCB’s monopoly by expanding wine sales to private outlets. … That could rise to 600 within a year, said LCB spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell. The new law allows the LCB to open more stores – and with extended Sunday and holiday hours. It also allows for lottery machines to be installed. … Still, GOP leaders are convinced it will ultimately weaken the LCB. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), most vocal about dissolving the board, predicted in June that the changes would “accelerate public demand for full privatization.” Two weeks ago, Turzai hinted that the privatization war may intensify yet again. He said privatizing the LCB’s wholesale operations was being considered as a potential new revenue source: “It’s one of the ideas on the table.” For all its potential weakening of the LCB, the law did reinforce the LCB’s exclusive right to hard-liquor sales. That could help sustain the store-expansion strategy. In an LCB study of 22 markets where refurbished or new stores opened, sales increased 5.5 percent, Brassell said. That study was done before this year’s law was enacted. …

Despite Push For Privatization, LCB Grows Number Of State Stores
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS Philly, November 20, 2016

Despite the continuing desire by some legislative leaders for privatization of alcohol sales, Liquor Control Board officials told lawmakers this past week that they are planning to increase the number of state stores in Pennsylvania. Selling off state stores has long been seen by advocates of privatization as their Holy Grail. But when asked last week about possible efforts to privatize retail sales, the legislature’s chief backer of privatization, House Speaker Mike Turzai, indicated leasing of wholesale operations was a higher priority. Liquor Control Board Chairman Tim Holden says even with a new law increasing the locations where wine can be sold, there are no plans to reduce the number of state stores. … In fact, LCB officials told a House committee that they have added nine state stores over the latter part of this year, for a total of 609 by year’s end, and that they aim for a total of 620 by the end of next year. …

Gov. Tom Wolf ‘frees the six-pack,’ but House Republicans look for more in 2017
Source: Wallace McKelvey, PennLive, November 15, 2016

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Tuesday that will allow Pennsylvanians to buy six-packs at beer distributors. House Bill 1196, which also allows them to sell growlers for off-premises consumption, is the latest in a series of measures that have broken down some of the barriers that traditionally separated the sale of beer, liquor and wine. … But it’s clear that the state House Republican majority — which expanded to 122 of 203 seats after last week’s election — will continue to push for more. In response to the Independent Fiscal Office’s analysis that the state’s income-expense gap is expected to grow to $1.7 billion in the next fiscal year, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, said privatization would help close that deficit. … Wendell Young IV, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, said the privatization issue is “like Groundhog Day all over again.” In light of the legislative gains, he said, a major push would not be surprising. “Of course they’re going to be emboldened by their larger numbers and we’re going to continue fighting it as we already have,” said Young, whose union represents about 3,500 of the state Liquor Control Board’s 5,000 employees. “Certainly, even if they want to do privatization, they ought to wait and see what the current law does.” …

Study: Liquor privatization increases rates of violent assault
Source: Michael Tanenbaum, Philly Voice, October 19, 2016

Pennsylvania citizens rejoiced last summer when Governor Tom Wolf loosened the state’s grip on liquor and wine, extending Sunday hours at state stores and tweaking regulations so that licensed grocery stores can sell wine. While many legislators, industry experts and responsible consumers have argued vehemently for the full privatization of Pennsylvania’s liquor laws, a new study out of Drexel University suggests that there could be a significant increase in violent assaults linked to such regulatory overhauls. … The team found that aggravated assaults increased by 8 percent in areas where licenses were granted to establishments that could not previously obtain them. Locations such as grocery stores and wholesalers were deemed “off-premises” sites because it is presumed that customers do not consume alcohol at the place where it was purchased. Among “on-premises” businesses that were always permitted to obtain a liquor license, the addition of each new bar other venue was linked to a five percent increase in aggravated assaults. … More alarming is the dramatic 74 percent rise in statewide non-aggravated assaults, including minor scraps and fist fights, between 2010 and the end of 2013, the timeframe for Drexel’s study. Aggravated assaults — attacks involving weapons — increased 42 percent statewide during that period. …

Shippensburg Sheetz becomes first Pa. convenience store to sell wine
Source: Matt Bernardini, Public Opinion, October 4, 2016

Tuesday marked a historic day for wine buyers in Pennsylvania and a shift in the commonwealth’s longstanding grip on alcohol sales. The Sheetz at 359 E. King St. in Shippensburg officially became the first convenience store chain in Pennsylvania to sell wine. The first bottle was purchased by Pennsylvania Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai, whose legislation – Act 39, the ABC and Wine Privatization Act – made the sale possible. Act 39 eases regulations on the selling of wine, and as a result convenience stores, grocery stores, and restaurants can now sell wine directly to customers. … Turzai also noted that before this bill was passed, Pennsylvania and Utah were the only two states that had full control over how wine was distributed. Many businesses have already begun to adapt to the changes by applying for a wine-expanded permit that allows restaurants and hotels to sell up to three liters of wine to a customer. So far these permits are in high demand. … For right now Pennsylvania has only partly privatized its system; however, a report done by the Keystone Research Center in September 2015 recommended that Gov. Wolf and other lawmakers proceed with caution on privatizing management of wine and spirits. Their recommendation was made in part by a 2011 report by the Community Preventive Services Task Force that recommends against further privatization of alcohol sales. The task force’s conclusions were based off findings of potential social risks. …

Wine in grocery stores, Sunday sales, more possible as liquor reform bill passes
Source: Wallace McKelvey, Penn Live, June 7, 2016

Sweeping liquor reforms that would keep the existing state stores but expand sales at grocery stores and restaurants passed the House Tuesday on its way to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. … House Bill 1690, which Turzai sponsored, had been subjected to substantial amendments in the Senate, intended as a possible compromise as part of last year’s budget impasse, that included the various changes to the state’s liquor system. On Tuesday, the Senate version was resurrected by the House and passed in a 157-31 vote. Turzai, a longtime proponent of privatizing the state system, was optimistic that it would be signed into law by Wolf. He stressed that the law passed Tuesday would be the first step, not the last. … Wolf, in a written statement Tuesday, said he planned to review the legislation “to ensure it meets my goals of enhancing customer experience, increasing much-needed revenue to help balance our budget, and bringing our wine and spirits system into the 21st century.” He did not indicate whether or not he intended to sign the bill. …

Pa. House OKs new GOP liquor privatization plan; would sell off state stores
Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, November 19, 2015

A divided state House on Thursday sent a new proposal to privatize Pennsylvania’s government-run liquor system to the Senate, a plan not much different from a Republican-backed bill that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed in June. The House voted 110-86 for the measure, which was billed as a step forward in broader, closed-door negotiations to resolve the state’s budget stalemate, currently in its fifth month. House Republicans have made it a priority to privatize the state-controlled wine and liquor system, and some form of it could win approval as part of a budget deal. … The bill, sponsored by Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would result in the closing of all of the about 600 state wine and liquor stores and create 1,200 new permits to sell wine and liquor. Beer distributors would get the first opportunity to buy the permits on a sliding price scale based on the size of their counties, from $30,000 for wine and $52,500 for liquor in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, to $7,500 for wine and $30,000 for liquor in the least populous areas. After six months, the remaining permits would be auctioned off. The wholesale system would be leased to a state-licensed importer for a decade, after which it would be given a permit to operate the system for a fee of 5 percent of the gross receipts.

Liquor privatization revived amid ongoing budget negotiations
Source: Wallace McKelvey, Pennlive, November 16, 2015

Legislation that would privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor distribution system has been resurrected as negotiations continue between lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf. … On Monday, the House Liquor Control Committee passed House Bill 1690 in a party-line vote. The bill is similar to legislation, also sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, that Wolf vetoed earlier this year. Most officials say HB 1690 will serve as a placeholder for an eventual compromise struck between Wolf and the Republican majorities in the Legislature. The actual content of that deal remains unknown.

New liquor privatization bill makes its entrance in Pennsylvania
Source: Andrew Staub,, November 13, 2015

House Speaker Mike Turzai on Thursday introduced another privatization bill extracting Pennsylvania from the hooch business, but there’s no promise it will be the final iteration of liquor reform included within a broader state budget agreement that’s starting to take shape. While liquor reform is part of the framework of a budget deal between Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers, Turzai’s latest booze bill is not the product of any current agreement, said Jeffrey Sheridan, Wolf’s press secretary. … Wolf wants the starting point of liquor talks to center on his previous proposal to lease the state’s wholesale and retail liquor operations to a private manager, Sheridan said, calling it a “very significant free-market reform.” Sheridan also said the liquor system is “an asset that we can make stronger.” “The state would still be running the system, but they would be leasing it out,” Sheridan said. “That is privatization.” … His newest privatization bill would close the about 600 state-owned wine and liquor stores and create 1,200 permits that would allow for the sale of beer, wine and spirits under one roof. That would create the one-stop shop Pennsylvanians have lacked since the fall of national Prohibition.

Key state labor leader isn’t fighting Wolf’s liquor reform proposal, and that’s one hurdle cleared
Source: Charles Thompson, The Patriot News, September 28, 2015

As renewed talks on the framework of a late Pennsylvania budget deal intensify, Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has scored a significant early-round win for his latest liquor reform compromise. It is that Wendell Young IV, president of the union representing the largest group of workers in the state-owned liquor store system, is not at this point opposing Wolf’s pitch to out-source its management. … Young, one of many public-sector union officials who sees a political ally in Wolf, said his comfort level with the liquor plan has everything to do with his confidence that Wolf won’t sign off on a deal that hurts state employees. …

Penn. Food Merchants Association reviewing governor’s latest liquor privatization proposal
Source: Pennsylvania Business Daily, September 23, 2015

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) is examining Gov. Tom Wolf’s most-recent proposal calling for partial privatization of the state-owned liquor store system, a recommendation made last week as part of an effort to end the state’s budget impasse. … That proposal would have created permits allowing the to-go sale of liquor and wine by beer distributors and holders of restaurant liquor licenses, including some grocery stores. At the same time, as these private sellers began operating, the state Liquor Control Board would have been required to start closing nearby state liquor stores and then Pennsylvania’s wholesale operation eventually would have been sold. Wolf vetoed the GOP proposal in June.

Wolf’s plan would outsource state liquor system to private manager
Source: Jan Murphy, The Patriot-News, September 16, 2015

After months of hearing Gov. Tom Wolf show no interest in Republican-backed proposals to privatize the state’s liquor system, the Democratic governor has come up with an idea that would move the state in that direction. His plan would stop short of moving the system out of the liquor business but instead would retain ownership and hand over management to a private company. … On Wednesday, as part of a broader state budget offer that also included elements of the Republicans’ pension reform plan, Wolf proposed leasing out the management of the retail and wholesale liquor system through a competitively bid process. … He said the contract with the private manager would be for a term of between 10 and 25 years and give the manager free rein over the number and location of stores, expand hours to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and flexibility in pricing. …

Opinion: Modernize, don’t sell, Pa. liquor system
Source: Wendell W. Young IV, The Morning Call, August 25, 2015

… An analysis of privatization by Public Financial Management that was commissioned by former Gov. Tom Corbett found that privatizing the agency would result in at least $1.4 billion in transition costs over five years. PFM also said that the state would have to come up with $408 million in new revenue each year to make privatization fiscally neutral. This is a national firm hired by Gov. Corbett, an ardent privateer. Yet some continue to insist that the state will actually make money if the system is dismantled. … PFM also found that at least 2,300 employees who work for the PLCB will go on unemployment. Big-box and large grocers, drug stores and small retailers will not hire scores of new employees, PFM found. Instead, they will simply clear some shelf space next to the chips and start selling vodka. …

House speaker links liquor overhaul to new taxes for budget
Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, July 27, 2015

A leading proponent of liquor privatization in the Pennsylvania Legislature said Monday that selling off the state stores must happen for any type of tax to be increased, with budget talks deadlocked nearly a month into the state’s new fiscal year….Turzai also indicated lawmakers may resolve the budget standoff by overriding Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed the budget legislation, a liquor privatization plan and public pension cuts after they passed without a single vote from his party.

How much would privatizing liquor sales really help?
Source: Drew Cranisky, Pittsburgh City Paper, July 22, 2015

“Generally speaking, the big issue with privatization is figuring out how to maintain the revenue stream that our existing system generates for the state government, and then being able to say with a straight face that retail prices aren’t going to skyrocket,” explains Nathan Lutchansky, bar manager at Lawrenceville’s Tender Bar & Kitchen and a longtime close observer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Any analysis of the most recent bill (known as HB 466) involves considerable speculation, and supporters of privatization rally around cries of better selection and pricing. But according to Lutchansky, this bill would likely have had the opposite effect, due to sizable fees imposed on retailers and wholesalers, and additional fees to register new products for sale. When Washington state privatized in 2012, for instance, prices shot up and selection began to erode.

Wolf vetoes GOP liquor privatization bill for Pennsylvania
Source: Karen Langley, The Post-Gazette, July 2, 2015

Gov. Tom Wolf said he vetoed legislation that would close the state’s liquor stores and permit private sales because it was not a “responsible means” of overhauling Pennsylvania’s liquor system and because it would hit Pennsylvanians in the pocketbook…The bill would have created permits allowing beer distributors and holders of restaurant licenses, including some grocery stores, to sell wine and liquor to go. As private sellers began operating, the state Liquor Control Board would have been instructed to close nearby state liquor stores…Democrats have opposed the privatization efforts, citing the state jobs provided by the liquor stores. They have also warned that prices would rise as private businesses sought profit.

General Assembly Approves Liquor Privatization Bill
Source: Legal Intelligencer, July 7, 2015

For the first time ever, both the state House of Representatives and Senate last week approved legislation that would start to get the state out of the liquor and wine business. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to veto the bill, but Republican lawmakers will continue to push for some level of liquor privatization as budget talks continue.

Why The Latest Liquor Privatization Bill Might Actually Pass /Yes, Republicans are try, trying again.
Source: Joel Mathis, Philadelphia Magazine, June 15, 2015

Yes, we’ve heard a million times before that the Pennsylvania Legislature is mulling a liquor privatization bill. A million times before, it’s gone nowhere. So why highlight the latest bill from Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican? Answer: Precisely because it’s originating in the Senate, where previous House attempts at privatization have long gone to die…..

Wagner to propose liquor privatization bill
Source: Greg Gross, York Dispatch, April 14, 2015

A York County senator says he plans to introduce his own version of a liquor store privatization bill this session. Though the Pennsylvania House already sent a bill to the Senate that would put liquor sales mainly in the hands of the private sector, Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said his bill will allow beer sellers to also offer spirits and wine, gradually phasing out the state store system. No new licenses would be created under Wagner’s plan, but it would privatize the state-run wholesale system….House bill: Under another measure, House Bill 446, all but 100 of about 600 state-owned and -operated liquor stores would gradually close. The state would be allowed to sell 1,200 licenses for private retailers to sell wine or liquor, or both, and it would give beer distributors the first shot at buying those licenses at a steep discount. Some grocery stores would also be able to apply for licenses, and the state’s wholesale licenses would also be sold off. As for beer laws, beer distributors would be able to sell six-packs. Restaurants, which now can sell 12-packs of beer for takeout, would be able to sell up to a case, in six-pack increments. The state-run liquor stores generate about $80 million annually for the state’s general fund. Wagner’s plan: Wagner began seeking fellow senators to co-sponsor his bill at the end of March and has already had seven co-sponsors sign on, High said on Tuesday….

Alcohol-sales privatization bill heads to Senate
Source: Pennsylvania Business Daily, February 26, 2015

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry praised the state’s House of Representatives on Thursday after it passed a bill that would end the commonwealth’s monopoly on alcohol sales. …. The House passed the bill by a vote of 144-87, advancing it to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, it would land on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to sign it into law.

Koch-Backed Super PAC Launches Advocacy Campaign
Source: Abby Smith, Politics PA, January 7, 2015

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are dipping their toes into Pennsylvania state politics. The American Future Fund, an Iowa-based super PAC founded by former Mitt Romney aides and linked to the Koch brothers, announced a multimedia advertising and advocacy effort Wednesday. The statewide campaign aims to encourage legislators’ efforts regarding the “3 Ps: pension reform, paycheck protection and liquor privatization.”

Privatizing liquor won’t yield a pot of gold for the state budget
Source: David Fillman, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13 ∙ Patriot News ∙ December 31, 2014

The budget news coming out of Harrisburg these days is grim, but the response by some lawmakers and their like-minded allies is ill-informed, at best, and downright misleading at worst. Pennsylvania confronts a $2 billion budget deficit that is a result of Gov. Tom Corbett’s failed policies, principally one-time budget fixes; and his unwillingness to support a statewide shale tax, Medicaid expansion or closing corporate tax loopholes….

Corbett: Women Want Liquor Law Reform So They Can Speed Up Dinner Prep
Source: Dan McQuade, Philadelphia, August 27, 2014

On a Pennsylvania TV show in July, Tom Corbett said women should want liquor law reform because it will allow them to prepare dinner more quickly.

Tom Corbett Makes Sexist Remark While Trying To Appeal To Women
Source: Marina Fang, Huffington Post, August 27, 2014

Apparently, only women make dinner, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R). Corbett, speaking on a local TV program last month, claimed women would support his proposal to reform his state’s liquor laws because it would save time while preparing dinner….

PA House GOP Seeks To Rekindle Liquor Privatization Debate
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS, August 27, 2014

In a sign that they aren’t giving up on liquor privatization, state House Republicans plan to push a bill that would decriminalize purchasing wine and liquor in other states and transporting it to Pennsylvania.

EDITORIAL: Pension woes are another reason to privatize Pennsylvania liquor system
Source: Express Times, August 15, 2014

… Of course, that gets to the heart of why Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state government can’t bring itself to reform either the liquor monopoly or the public employee pension systems. The liquor system returns more than $500 million a year to the state treasury. Overall retirement debt, with or without LCB participation, is potentially crushing, requiring serious changes. And those with the power to restructure pensions are members of the retirement system. Yet liquor privatization remains doable. The state could reap a healthy tax return to support LCB enforcement and other operations; the initial sale of licenses would produce a huge one-time source of revenue; and consumers would have market-based choices, competitive pricing and convenience.

Liquor privatization effort kicked? Gov. Corbett’s failure to link privatization to state budget damages chances
Source: Scott Kraus, Morning Call, July 7, 2014

With the passage last week of a state budget, Republicans’ bid to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business is looking tapped out.  Gov. Tom Corbett initially linked the budget to passage of liquor and pension reform, but when liquor reform began looking increasingly unlikely, he shifted focus to demanding action on pensions, eliciting a promise by the House to take up that issue in the fall.

House Version of Pa. Budget to Incorporate Liquor Store Privatization
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS Philly, June 24, 2014

In an apparent effort to light a fire under the feet of their counterparts in the state senate, a committee in the Pennsylvania House has advanced a new state budget partially funded by revenues from the sale of liquor retailing licenses. The House last year passed a bill to privatize the sale of liquor in Pennsylvania, but the senate has continued to balk at that. Now, the House Appropriations Committee, as part of the effort to close a massive budget gap without a broad-based tax hike, has advanced a budget bill that plans on almost $400 million from the sale of liquor licenses….

Pennsylvania Senate negotiations of legislation to expand sales of beer, wine intensify
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 14, 2014

With a little more than two weeks before state lawmakers might call it quits until September, Senate leaders behind closed doors are negotiating legislation to allow sales of beer and wine in convenience stores and grocery stores while keeping the 600-plus state-run liquor stores in business. Pennsylvania would maintain control of wholesale and retail sales of liquor and wine under Senate plans and remain, with Utah, the only states to do so.

So how many plans to privatize Pennsylvania liquor sales are out there?
Source: Jeff Frantz,, April 28, 2014

You can almost hear it, the liquor privatization partisans chanting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” in hopes Pennsylvania’s legislature will down their preferred plan in the next two weeks. And members of the state Senate seem poised to bring the glass to their lips. But what will the Senate’s plan actually look like once it’s set in legislation? Could something else off this cocktail menu prove more appealing? Or — because this is Pennsylvania — will the next six session days pass with no action, and will everyone leave Harrisburg unhappy and have to buy beer at a distributor and whiskey at a state store (only during restricted Sunday hours)?

So what’s in play? Let’s take a look.
The bill that passed, and stalled: HB 790 ….
The bill that almost passed: HB 790, as amended ….
The bill that’s been circulated: A bigger LCB? …
The proposals waiting to be introduced: The Senate plan …. The outsiders plan ….

Beer, wine and liquor would all be sold in the same store under new proposal to privatize Pa. booze sales
Source: Jeff Frantz,, April 14, 2014

There’s another plan on the table to change the way booze is bought and sold in Pennsylvania, one that would totally undo the state store system. Now we get to see if this proposal — put forward by a coalition of businesses including the Pennsylvania Retail Federation, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Business Council and a group representing some beer distributors — can gain traction in an increasingly crowded field. In a letter to state Senators last week, the coalition said its proposal is the most friendly to consumers and businesses, since it’s crafted by the very businesses that want to move into the beer, wine and spirits game, that would have to meet customer needs to recoup their investment. …. The proposal would tie a license to sell beer, wine and liquor together. License holders would have the choice to sell whichever of the products they want. Any place that sells beer could sell it by the six-pack or case. Initially, the coalition expects many of these revamped “D” licenses would come from current beer distributors….

House Democrats, union say not so fast on plan for full liquor privatization in Pa.
Source: Jeff Frantz,, April 14, 2014

So is news of yet another proposal to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania evidence that momentum for a change exists? Or is all the talk about momentum just an effort to create momentum? House Democrats and the union that represents state store employees — both longtime privatization foes — think it’s the later. They also believe the proposal put forward by a coalition of business groups is a bad deal for taxpayers….

GOP says privatizing LCB could aid budget
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 5, 2014

House Republican leaders are arguing in ongoing negotiations that privatizing the state liquor system would bolster the 2014-15 budget, but political analysts remain skeptical, given the issue’s troubled legislative history.

Liquor privatization ‘working draft’ planned for Pennsylvania
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 14, 2014

Closed-door talks on liquor privatization continued on Tuesday among GOP legislative leaders and the lieutenant governor. The next step is expected to be consideration of a “working draft” of legislation, perhaps by week’s end. …

State leaders negotiating on possible new liquor privatization plan
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2014

House and Senate leaders are negotiating a plan with the governor’s office that eventually could phase out state-owned liquor stores and expand private sales of wine, beer and liquor, a key proponent said on Tuesday.

CDC opposes liquor store privatization in PA
Source: Melissa Daniels, PA Independent, August 23, 2013

If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a say in whether Pennsylvania sells off its state-owned liquor stores, it’d likely vote to keep them around.

Recommendations from the federal agency’s Community Preventative Services Task Force say turning over to the free marketing the sale of wine and liquor leads to excessive drinking. But these conclusions are disputed by other researchers and privatization supporters, who claim the CDC isn’t looking at the right data.

The task force recommendations were included in a mid-August study on how much excessive drinking costs state economies and governments – about $224 billion annually nationwide, and about $8 billion in Pennsylvania, per 2006 figures.

Liquor lobbyists spent over $900,000 towards privatizing alcohol sales in Pa.
Source: Gil Smart,, July 7, 2013

… Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett’s dream of privatizing liquor sales in Pennsylvania went down in flames, as state senators couldn’t agree on a plan to get the commonwealth out of the booze business. It was the fourth time privatization has come up in the Legislature, said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Public Affairs. But, he noted, when the House voted to privatize state stores in March, it marked the first time either chamber had passed a privatization proposal….According to records from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Lobbying Disclosure database, $925,898 has been spent on alcoholic beverages lobbying so far in 2013. Corporations, unions, wineries, beer distributors and trade groups sought to make their voices heard above the din of what one newspaper called one of “the largest public flocks of lobbyists” in recent memory….

Pa. privatization bill reworked Senate committee reconstructs liquor sale package that had gained House approval
Source: Karen Langley, Post-Gazette, June 25, 2013

Legislation to allow private sales of wine and liquor advanced through a Senate committee Monday without signs that Republicans are closer to a proposal that could clear the full chamber. …. Instead of disbanding the state’s wholesale purchasing operation, the amended bill would require studies to assess the wholesale value of the system. Where the House bill would use a formula to shutter the state wine and spirits stores, the Senate amendment would allow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to decide when outlets would close.

What’s next in Pennsylvania’s liquor privatization battle as budget time draws closer?
Source: Sue Gleiter,, June 6, 2013

…McIlhinney has said he will introduce a bill in the next two weeks. He has indicated he wants to maintain the state-run stores but expand sales for existing license holders including beer distributors, bars and restaurants and some grocery stores. However, Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would like to see a liquor proposal cross his desk by the end of the month in time for the June 30 budget deadline. …

Senate liquor privatization hearing heats up as Cawley testifies
Source: Sue Gleiter,, June 4, 2013

…The heated exchange was part of the nearly four hour hearing. The agenda – similar to the committee’s first two meetings – was stacked with mostly those testifying in opposition to scraping the 80-year-old state-run system…. Beer wholesalers took to the floor early in the morning saying they support the idea of modernizing and would like to be able to sell smaller quantities of beer such as six-packs. The version of the bill voted on in March by the House would give beer distributors first shot at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses. It would also allow restaurants and supermarkets to sell wine….Cawley called the issue one of great importance and said the private sector can be trusted as long as it is regulated to provide selection, pricing and convenience. Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would like to see a liquor proposal by the end of the month in time for the June 30 budget deadline. …

Union targets liquor privatization with television and radio ad campaign
Source: Sue Gleiter,, May 6, 2013

The union representing Pennsylvania’s wine and spirit store clerks is uncorking a statewide television and radio campaign aimed at Gov. Tom Corbett. … Corbett has said he would like a liquor privatization bill to pass in time for the June 30 budget deadline. In March, the House passed a bill which gives beer distributors first crack at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses and allows supermarkets to sell wine. The bill is now in the Senate where it is being heavily scrutinized by the Law and Justice Committee…

Corbett’s liquor privatization plan on life support / As key Senate panel holds hearing, its chairman pulls plug on House version.
Source: Steve Esack, Morning Call, April 30, 2013

First came the cops. Then came the drug-and-alcohol counselors. Next up was the moms. And finally, the kids. All of them told a state Senate committee Tuesday they oppose a plan to privatize wine and spirits sales and make beer more readily available under a House-approved bill supported by Gov. Tom Corbett.Law enforcement officers, represented by union officials, said they oppose House Bill 790 because it lacks extra financial support for police facing a potential rise in emergency calls at liquor establishments, on roads and in homes. And the counselors, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and high school students warned that the bill could trigger more alcoholism, violence and death without providing extra money to ward off those social ills…

Hearings set on bill to privatize liquor stores
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer, April 23, 2013

Let the liquor hearings begin. The first of what will likely be three state Senate hearings on a controversial bill to privatize Pennsylvania’s government-run wine and liquor stores has been scheduled for next Tuesday in the Capitol – and it is bound to be telling. That the bill has few ardent fans in the Senate is no secret. Republicans who control the chamber have strongly signaled they are leaning toward modernizing, rather than privatizing, the State-Store system.

Lobbying money flows in state store debate
Source: Steve Esack and Scott Kraus, Morning Call, March 23, 2013

Lobbyists line up Wednesday to listen outside a small room that leads to the floor of the House of Representatives, where lawmakers debated a liquor store privatization bill that the House passed Thursday.

Pennsylvania House Votes On Liquor Privatization Today
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS Philly, March 21, 2013

The stage is set for a historic vote today in the Pennsylvania House on a bill that would phase out the state store system of selling wine and liquor. But even if the bill passes the House, it would still have to get through the Senate, where support is less certain….

Pa. House Committee OKs overhaul of Corbett liquor bill
Source: Associated Press, March 18, 2013

A key legislative panel has endorsed a radically changed version of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s liquor-privatization bill. The House Liquor Control Committee voted 14-10 Monday to approve an amended version that gives beer distributors the first shot at buying 1,200 liquor and wine sales licenses. After one year, the remaining licenses would be offered to other buyers. The 600 state stores would be gradually reduced as the number of licensees in each county grows. Once the number of state stores falls below 100, they all would close.

LCB officials say state holding them back
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 2013

Jobs are going unfilled. Morale is low. Even the chairman says he doesn’t believe the state should be in the booze business. Yet the agency that runs Pennsylvania’s liquor stores says that even in the face of Gov. Corbett’s efforts to privatize its retail and wholesale operations, it is more productive than ever. Such was the testimony Monday by top officials at the Liquor Control Board budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee. LCB brass said they have been turning more than $100 million a year in profit for the last several years – and kicking more than $80 million of that into the state’s cash-strapped coffers. Yet LCB board member Robert Marcus contended that the agency is operating on a scaled-down staff while the Corbett administration refuses to sign off on filling key vacant positions….

Researchers: Easier access to booze has a downside
Source: Scott Kraus, Morning Call, February 11, 2013

Experts say making booze easier and cheaper to buy – goals of Corbett’s privatization plan – increases problems like alcoholism, DUIs….

The Case for Liquor Privatization in Pennsylvania
Source:Melissa Daniels, Reason, February 10, 2013

Private group to advocate for privatizing Pennsylvania liquor stores
Source: Brad Bumsted, triblive, January 18, 2013

A new coalition of citizens, businesses and groups supporting liquor privatization will announce next week a push for the state store divestiture plan Republican Gov. Tom Corbett soon will announce, a leading advocate said Friday.

Dem plans bill to require privatization approval
Source: Brent Burkey, Central Penn Business Journal, November 20, 2012

A state lawmaker from western Pennsylvania plans to introduce a bill requiring legislative approval for privatizing government programs that would include the Pennsylvania Lottery, according to a news release last week.

State outlines key terms for lottery management privatization
Source: Brent Burkey, Central Penn Business Journal, November 12, 2012

Corbett lists priorities: pensions, transportation, privatizing liquor sales
Source: Karen Langley, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, November 20, 2012

…Mr. Corbett said he also remains committed to privatizing state sales of liquor and wine after previous efforts at dismantling the state system have not succeeded. “We’re not in the business when it comes to beer,” he said. “We shouldn’t be in the business when it comes to wine and alcohol, and I will continue to fight to get us out of the business.” In response to a question, Mr. Corbett said privatizing liquor sales ranks with pension reform and transportation funding in his priorities for the coming term….

Pennsylvania liquor privatization bill will wait until fall, lawmaker says
Source: Associated Press, June 19, 2012

Liquor privatization usually a GOP issue
Source: Robert Swift, Citizens’ Voice, June 17, 2012

Pa. House suspends debate on liquor privatization
Source: Peter Jackson, Associated Press June 12, 2012

New contract may scuttle effort to privatize Pa. liquor sales
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 5, 2012

Union: Wash. auction shows Pa. liquor privatization unrealistic
Source: Tim Stuhldreher, Central Penn Business Journal, May 01, 2012

Auditor General Jack Wagner Says Liquor Privatization A Bad Deal for Taxpayers and Consumers
Source: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Press release, November 30, 2011

Privatization of liquor sales bad idea, Pa. auditor general says
Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, November 30, 2011

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner was set to give testimony in Harrisburg Wednesday that privatizing liquor sales in the state would increase prices and not generate the amount of revenue for the state that is produced by the current system under the Liquor Control Board.