Some lawmakers and the media have labeled the latest liquor reforms as “historic” and “sweeping.” The Patriot-News described the reform as the “most substantial overhaul of Pennsylvania's liquor system since Prohibition became law.”
We won't go quite that far, wine in select grocery stores is not exactly groundbreaking.
Is there more convenience? Sure. But it doesn't take much to improve on the incredibly inconvenient and corrupt Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).
Here are five reasons Pennsylvanians should view Act 39 as the first step toward full privatization.
1. Wine in select stores. Grocery and convenience stores currently allowed to sell beer will now be able to sell wine. But that's only an estimated 300 to 350 stores in the entire state. Moreover, you'll be limited to purchasing four bottles of wine at a time. And the wine must be purchased from the PLCB. In other words, bureaucrats will still control your wine selection.
2. Beer in gas stations. The law codifies a PLCB decision to allow gas stations with prepared foods to sell beer if they meet PLCB requirements. Just nine gas stations have been approved thus far. If you are lucky enough to be near one of these gas stations, you'll still need to purchase your beer and gas at separate counters.
3. Wine delivery. Finally Pennsylvanians will be able to order wine from other states and have it delivered directly to their door, instead of a PLCB store. Though, a licensee authorized to deliver wine will be limited in the amount they can ship.
4. Expanded PLCB store hours. The PLCB will have the power to keep state stores open longer on Sundays and holidays.
5. Variable pricing. The law allows state stores to arbitrarily increase (or decrease) prices on their best-selling products, thereby costing consumers even more.
These changes (excluding variable pricing) are positive, but they don't go far enough.
The government-run liquor system has led to product shortages, inconvenience for entrepreneurs, and outright neglect of their property. As long as government maintains its wholesale monopoly on wine and liquor, mismanagement and inconvenience will be the status quo.