Leg­is­la­tors talk liquor store is­sue

The Globe - - POLICEREPORTS - By Jar­reau Free­man

io­cals mak­ing quick stops into Big Top Bev­er­ages on Eas­ton ooad for cases of their fa­vorite brews may have been sur­prised to see more than beer cases gath­ered at the front of the store Wed­nes­day.

Bev­er­age pur­vey­ors, em­ploy­ees, com­mu­nity mem­bers and state leg­is­la­tors met at Big Top for a House Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee Hear­ing to dis­cuss Gov. Tom Cor­bett’s ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plans to pri­va­tize the Penn­syl­va­nia liquor stores.

March 2M, the Penn­syl­va­nia House of oep­re­sen­ta­tives ap­proved House Bill TVM, which aims to trans­fer the busi­ness of sell­ing al­co­hol from the state to the pri­vate sec­tor.

fn or­der to im­ple­ment this, around N,2MM liquor li­censes will be avail­able to ex­ist­ing beer dis­trib­u­tors and then to the pub­lic. rn­der the bill, dis­trib­u­tors will be able to sell growlers, six­packs or N2-packs in ad­di­tion to cases. Gro­cery store wine li­censes and wineto-go per­mits will also be avail­able.

ff the beer dis­trib­u­tors want to pur­chase a li­cense, the state will loan them funds, and they will have about four years to pay it back, said state oep. Paul Costa, D-34.

Pri­va­tiz­ing the liquor stores is es­ti­mated to gen­er­ate mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue.

The bill is sched­uled to go be­fore the se­nate this year for fur­ther ac­tion.

When the House ap­proved the bill, many state rep­re­sen­ta­tives spoke in sup­port of the de­ci­sion.

“lur cur­rent sys­tem for sell­ing al­co­hol in Penn­syl­va­nia is an anachro­nism, it’s old-fash­ioned and it needs change,” said state oep. hate Harper, o-SN, in a press re­lease. “Ask any­body what they want, and they will tell you they don’t think they should have to go to a government store to buy a bot­tle of wine. They don’t think the state should be the ex­clu­sive pur­veyor of beer, wine and spir­its. iet’s stop putting an­other coat of shel­lac on a shed that’s fall­ing down. ft’s time to move on.” lthers shared Harper’s views. “Penn­syl­va­ni­ans over­whelm­ingly agree that state government shouldn’t be in the busi­ness of sell­ing al­co­hol,” said state oep. Becky Corbin, o-NRR, in a sep­a­rate news re­lease. “House Bill TVM of­fers con­sumers great choice and flH[LELOLWy wKLOH JHWWLnJ JRYHUnPHnW back to core func­tions of ed­u­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion and pub­lic safety.”

How­ever, dur­ing the hear­ing, some rep­re­sen­ta­tives shared their con­cerns about state liquor pri­va­ti­za­tion, es­peFLDOOy Ln UHJDUGs WR finDnFH.

The liquor in­dus­try pro­duces about $100 PLOOLRn GROODUs RI SUR­fiW Dn­nuDOOy for the state, said state oep. Madeleine Dean, D-NR3.

The state could lose ANTR mil­lion each year if this bill be­comes law, Costa said.

The state could also lose around 3,RMM em­ploy­ees that are work­ing for the liquor in­dus­try and some small beer dis­trib­u­tors could be put out of busi­ness by the big­ger stores, he said.

fn ad­di­tion, the state plans to phase out SMM liquor stores if the pri­va­ti­za­tion law passes.

David Ben­der, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Com­pass Mark, a youth ser­vices and train­ing provider in ian­caster, tes­ti­fiHG WKDW Ln DERuW 10 yHDUs WKH SULYD­tized sys­tem would gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated A444 mil­lion less per year than the cur­rent sys­tem.

“Ac­cord­ing to my rough cal­cu­la­tions, the only way to bal­ance the books with pri­va­ti­za­tion un­der this bill is to in­crease the liquor tax from NU per­cent to 32 per­cent,” he said.

There were also con­cerns raised about the so­cial im­pacts pri­va­ti­za­tion could have.

Washington state, which switched to a pri­va­tized sys­tem last gune, has seen rob­beries in­crease by 42 per­cent, bur­glar­ies by 4M per­cent, ju­ve­nile ar­rests by 2N per­cent and Drfs have seen a NM per­cent in­crease in some of the towns, said Pres­i­dent of the rnited cood and Com­mer­cial Work­ers io­cal NTTS Wen­dell voung.

“Penn­syl­va­nia has amongst the low­est per capita rate of wine and spir­its con­sump­tion in the na­tion,” voung said. “We have amongst the high­est rev­enue that comes back to tax­pay­ers per gal­lon of wine and spir­its sold. We also have the low­est death rate as­so­ci­ated with the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol in the na­tion. f think we have a good thing go­ing [the way things are].”

lthers at the hear­ing agreed that the state “has a good thing go­ing” and did not want to see pri­va­ti­za­tion, be­cause that could po­ten­tially put them out of a job.

Nancy Dil­let, an em­ployee at the genk­in­town Wine and Spir­its store, WHsWL­fiHG WKDW KHU MRE KDs KHOSHG KHU pro­vide a com­fort­able liv­ing for her fam­ily and los­ing it would have “im­me­di­ate and last­ing im­pacts.”

“As [my chil­dren] grow older and en­ter new stages in their life, they look to me for sup­port,” she said. “Work­ing at PiCB en­ables me to pro­vide for my fam­ily … ft’s noth­ing fancy, but we get by.”

Chris­tine May, who has been a clerk at the Hor­sham Wine and Spir­its for two years, said she works there part­time to help pay for her grand­chil­dren’s day care fees.

“Work­ing at the PiCB gives me peace of mind, know­ing if need be, f can go full-time and pro­vide the wagHs DnG EHnH­fiWs nHFHssDUy IRU NHHSLnJ [Py KusEDnG DnG ,@ DflRDW Ln WURuEOHG times,” she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.