Randy LoBasso summarizes the sucky partial privatization plan that will apparently be getting a vote today:
Last we checked in, the problem was putting together a General Assembly coalition of forces that’d get enough votes together to outnumber the clot of pro-union Democrats and pro-’family’ Republicans, both of whom are against privatization of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for completely different reasons.
The most recent plan they’re trying to get past these groups would issue 1,600 wine and spirits licenses, the first 1,060 of which would be offered to beer distributors to make for liver-killing mega stores throughout the state. Beer distributors would also be allowed to sell 6-packs. Within five years, state liquor stores would be winded down, except in remote parts of the state. In 10 years, supermarkets would be allowed to jump into the mix. Turzai called the idea a “strong plan,” even if most aren’t entirely sure how much money would be reaped from the initial sell-off.
I’m all for getting the state out of the booze business, but this plan is godawful.
Turzai only partially privatizes the market, maintaining all kinds of restrictions on *who* is allowed to sell alcohol. The resulting system will still be very crappy, but the winners of this round will fight further reforms, and consumers will be stuck with whatever monstrosity is born out of this first round of policy changes.
It’s very rare that you get a second bite at the apple with privatization, so it’s extremely important to get it right the first time. For consumers to get the best possible alcohol market, everyone needs to be expropriated – not just the state store union, but also beer distributors and tavern license owners.
Turzai should throw out this bill and start over, incorporating the following principles:
1. Let supermarkets sell beer, wine and liquor, effective immediately.
2. Charge a flat fee to any business that wants to sell booze – no cap on licenses.
3. Tax volume, not value.
4. Allow Pennsylvanians to buy wine, spirits, or beer in other states, or through the mail/Internet from anywhere, without penalty.
5. Allow any authorized retailer to sell beer in any volume they desire, without fake restrictions.
6. Open up the wholesale market to more competition