Privatizing liquor sales — ‘hangover’ on the horizon?

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In this April 2013 photo liquor bottles sit on shelves in a market in Baltimore. If privatization is approved in the legislature, Pennsylvania will end its dubious distinction of being one of only two states in the U.S. to retain total control over the retail sale of liquor and wine. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

 

If 48 other states around America have found a way to relinquish total control over the sales of wine and liquor why is there such a ruckus in Pennsylvania on the issue of privatizing liquor sales, wondered Shalimar Blakely, executive director of the Philadelphia African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Ending state control of the sale of liquor and wine in Pennsylvania — inclusive of closing the 600 ‘state stores’ is a major item on the legislative agenda of Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, who feels the time is long since past to “put our liquor system into private hands.”

In March the Republican controlled State Legislature passed a liquor privatization measure that is now in the State Senate for consideration.

If privatization is approved in the legislature and signed by Corbett, who is awaiting such a measure, Pennsylvania will end its dubious distinction of being one of only two states in the U.S. to retain total control over the retail sales of liquor and wine. Pennsylvania and 17 other states retain some form of control over liquor and wine sales. State government in West Virginia, for example, is the wholesale distributor of distilled spirits but not wine and malt beverages.

“I plan to do further research into why privatization is working in 48 other states and how it can work in Pennsylvania,” Blakely said, adding she plans to poll the Chamber’s membership on the issue.

When members of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus discussed privatization of liquor sales during a meeting earlier this year, “no member voiced support” for the controversial issue, PLBC Executive Director Brandon Flood said. All PLBC House members present for that March vote in the House approving privatization voted against it, Flood said.

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