Don’t Stop Halfway

Liquor privatization has been a promise, a priority and even passed the House last year. And in the roughly 11 months since that historic vote, progress remains stalled.

But it’s a new year. January 17 marked 94 years since the beginning of Prohibition, and the optimistic among us are asking, “Could 2014 be the year it finally ends in Pennsylvania?” Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi expressed hope to get privatization legislation to the Governor’s desk this spring, but reports indicate that privatization plans being considered would only go halfway.

What does halfway privatization mean? In short, the government will still have control over wine and liquor sales, but consumers may have a few new options in terms of where they can purchase some types of government-selected booze.

David Ozgo, chief economist of the Distilled Spirits Council, warns that “Like most halfway measures, privatizing only wine is a phenomenally bad idea that would do great financial harm to the state and consumers.”

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, a half-step which keeps the PLCB in control of the wholesale side of alcohol sales—responsible for selecting what can be sold in the state, warehousing and delivering wine and spirits, and setting prices—will be worse than the status quo for consumers. It would likely result in reduced tax revenues, operating losses, higher prices, less convenience, and increased border bleed.

Not only is halfway privatization a bad idea economically, but it flies in the face of what Pennsylvanians actually want. Survey after survey shows that voters and consumers on both sides of the political aisle want full privatization, not “modernization” or halfway measures.

Consumers have patiently waited to get the choice and convenience they deserve and demand—and only full privatization will satisfy those demands. Send a reminder to your lawmakers today.