JUNE 18, 2013 | by MATTHEW BROUILLETTE
This afternoon, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney introduced his liquor "reform" plan which falls short in delivering the convenience, selection, and pricing that Pennsylvanians demand. His proposal, which keeps the state-owned and operated liquor stores as well as the government-run wholesale monopoly of wine and spirits cannot be considered privatization.
With the government continuing as the wholesale middleman—in charge of supplying all wine and spirits to retail outlets—consumers will not see greater selection or lower prices in wine and spirits and would cost taxpayers an estimated $700 million.
But the battle for liquor liberty is not over.
We agree with Senate Majority Leader Pileggi that this proposal is only a starting point in the liquor privatization debate in the Senate, and that more work needs to be done to get government out of the booze business.
Click here to email your Senator and let Harrisburg know that Pennsylvanians want real privatization, not liquor sales "reform." Click here for contact information for Senate leadership and Law & Justice Committee members.
JUNE 14, 2013 | by DAWN MELING
We've all fought long and hard for Pennsylvania to finally enter the 21st century and end government control of alcohol sales. We've never been closer, but we're not there yet.
Liquor privatization now rests with the Senate, and we must let them know that we want full privatization, not half measures. Time is running out and alternatives have been raised that would fail to end the government monopoly on alcohol sales.
Pennsylvanians want real privatization—in a poll released this week 52 percent of likely voters said that privatizing retail alcohol sales but keeping the government wholesale monopoly is insufficient (only 18 percent said it was sufficient).
The time is now. Tell Harrisburg you support full privatization of alcohol sales!
- Click here to send your Senator a quick message.
- Call and email Senate leaders and members of the Law & Justice Committee. Contact information below:
Senate Law and Justice Committee:
I urge you to pick up the phone, send messages, and share this alert with your friends today.
JUNE 12, 2013 | by NATHAN BENEFIELD
The Scranton Times Tribune has an excellent editorial explaining that the state government monopoly over liquor wholesale is just a bad as its monopoly over wine and spirits retail sales.
Currently the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board determines what wines and liquors can be sold in the state. Moreover, restaurants and bars have to get their wine and spirits from the government—and they have to pick it up themselves, because the PLCB doesn't deliver.
The Times-Tribune writes:
As demonstrated in recent hearings by the state Senate Law and Justice Committee, the alcohol politburo's centralized control of the wholesale booze business is just as harmful to consumers' interests.
In the capitalist world, private sector retailers such as wine shops and restaurants buy directly from many wholesalers, who compete for customers by offering selection and price. Wholesale prices go a long way towards determining competitive, rather than standardized shelf prices.
In Pennsylvania, there is but one 800-pound gorilla of a wholesaler - the politburo itself, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. It determines what the only retailer - also the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board - can sell at retail, and at what price.
Some have suggested "modernizing" by expanding retail options, but keeping the government monopoly over wholesale. But if taverns and grocery stores still have to buy their wine from the government, Pennsylvanians won't get any greater selection or lower prices than they have now.
For more on this issue, check out recent posts on the cost of "modernizing" the PLCB's wholesale monopoly and why this issue matters to you and listen to our latest podcast in which Katrina Anderson talks with Marcia Lampman, Executive Director of the House Liquor Control Committee, on why ending the government's wholesale monopoly is critical to Pennsylvania consumers.
JUNE 10, 2013 | by JOHN BOUDER
For most of us, liquor privatization means making liquor more convenient and affordable by getting rid of Prohibition era, state-run stores and unleashing the power of the private sector. But the state’s current retail system is supported by a wholesale network that’s also run by the government. For lawmakers to give Pennsylvania consumers the choice and convenience they deserve, the monopoly over wholesale and retail operations must end.
Marcia Lampman, Executive Director of the House Liquor Control Committee, says, "The PLCB is acting as a middleman, because you still have the 'big guys'—the wholesalers—operating in Pennsylvania as well. They are simply called importers and are only allowed to sell to the PLCB."
This adds a layer of cost and inconvenience that does not exist in other states. In fact, restaurants and taverns actually have to pick up their liquor orders from state outlets—the PLCB doesn’t deliver.
Marcia answers these questions and much more in our latest podcast. Listen here.
JUNE 7, 2013 | by DAWN MELING
Fellow Pennsylvanians, we've all been there: road-weary on a long drive home, hungry and low on gas, and there it is…a big, red beacon of hope and MTOs…you have made it to Sheetz.
Okay, full disclaimer: I am a Western Pennsylvanian and my Sheetz card is practically falling off my keychain due to overuse. But you don’t need to know a Shmiscuit from a Shmuffin to be embarrassed by recent comments about Sheetz in a Senate liquor privatization hearing: "They rip people off every day." Another outrageous union boss comment? No, a state senator. The roughly 40,000 fans of Sheetz's pro-privatization Free My Beer campaign likely beg to differ.
Outrageous comments aside, whether you'd like to finally buy your booze at a Sheetz or a Wawa, or perhaps your local bar or restaurant, it's essential not only for lawmakers to increase convenience, but to get government out of liquor sales entirely. If the government maintains monopoly control of wholesale distribution, the PLCB will have complete power to make or break any retail stores that sell liquor.
Full liquor privatization is critical to expand consumer choice in Pennsylvania. The PLCB’s wholesale monopoly doesn’t serve current outlets well and it will only get worse if the number of outlets that sell alcohol increase.
If you wish you could buy your adult beverages this weekend at a store that isn’t run by the government, make sure you let your senator know that you want government out of the business of selling alcohol – completely.
Related : Liquor Store Privatization
Testimony to the Senate Law and Justice Committee yesterday illustrated why wholesale privatization must be a part of "modernizing" liquor sales in Pennsylvania.
The PLCB’s wholesale monopoly can’t serve current, much less expanded, retail outlets, restaurants and taverns. The PLCB does not deliver to restaurants, bars and taverns. In fact, the PLCB contracts with private companies for warehousing and even delivery to their own state stores.
Rep. Kurt Masser (a tavern owner) explains the PLCB’s ordering process: "I get my meat delivered to my restaurant. I get my produce delivered to my restaurant. I get my beer delivered to my restaurant. I have to pick up my liquor order. I can’t get it delivered. And if the liquor order is wrong, I have to take it back to the store and redo it." A competitive wholesale system will better serve Pennsylvania’s small businesses
Mark Gorman, Senior Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), whose members account for about 80 percent of spirit sales nationwide, testified yesterday on liquor privatization. Mr. Gorman noted:
- Privatization of retail sales should be tied to wholesale privatization of alcohol sales: "…if you decide to privatize one tier of business—you would be best served by privatizing the whole thing."
- Pennsylvania’s current state-run system does not adequately serve the state's more than 12 million residents.
- If the PLCB were to expand delivery to more than 15,000 restaurants, bars and hotels, DISCUS estimates the cost to taxpayers as high as $770 million a year. In contrast, private wholesalers operating in most other states deliver products to restaurants.
- The Commonwealth could take in more than $500 million from selling off private wholesale licenses.
For Mark Gorman’s complete testimony, click here.
Testimony from Dawson R. Hobbs of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America expanded on those arguments by explaining why a private wholesale system will increase selection and choices for consumers:
The existence of multiple wholesalers in a state also benefits retailers and consumers because it introduces competition to the market place. Each wholesaler will carry multiple brands in a given product category, for instance vodka or bourbon. Thus wholesalers are competing to make their particular band the product of choice in that market. This competitive dynamic ensures that retailers are receiving the most competitive prices and marketing support from wholesalers. Over time that means that consumers benefit by having the opportunity to purchase the best products at the best prices.
The successful experience from Washington shows that wholesale privatization can occur in a six month period. Pennsylvania lawmakers should follow that example rather than spending millions of dollars to retrofit a bad system that is destined to fail and lose hundreds of millions in new revenue. Let’s get this right the first time by privatizing the wholesale system to ensure retail stores and restaurants get the quality service they so desperately need.