June 8, 2022, Harrisburg, Pa. — Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee passed a bill that would end state control of liquor sales. House Bill 2272, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Mihalek, proposes a constitutional amendment stating that “The Commonwealth shall not manufacture or sell, at wholesale or retail, liquor.”
The Committee’s vote comes just days after the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) suffered another loss in the Commonwealth Court over the organization’s illegal handling fees. The PLCB is a state agency that regulates liquor sales and has a history of incompetence, waste, and questionable ethics.
“The state’s monopoly on liquor is an unpopular relic of the prohibition era,” said Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation Nathan Benefield. “Today, we are one step closer to getting government union executives and politicians out of the way and letting voters decide if this unaccountable, antiquated system should continue.”
A May 2022 poll found that 78 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor ending government sale and distribution of wine and spirits. Supporters for privatization include a majority of Democrats, union households, and even non-drinkers.
“The liquor monopoly makes it impossible for Pennsylvanians to buy beer, wine, and liquor at the same location and often forces state residents to travel long distances to purchase alcohol,” said Benefield. “Allowing private retailers and distributors to sell alcohol is a commonsense reform that increases consumer choice and convenience while lowering prices.”
In addition to benefiting consumers, liquor privatization increases revenue for the state. A liquor privatization plan like the one vetoed in 2015 would have provided both upfront revenues and increased annual tax collections by reducing sales lost to border bleed.
Because HB 2272 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution, both the House and Senate must pass it in two consecutive legislative sessions. After which, it needs voters’ approval through a referendum before the bill becomes law.
Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Stefanie Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414-418-5132 to schedule an interview.
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The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.