The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 31, 2013

Governor proposes plan to privatize liquor sales

HARRISBURG - Nothing Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday explained why his effort to end the state’s liquor monopoly would be any more successful than earlier attempts, and the governor’s bid got off on the wrong foot by snubbing many lawmakers who were not a preview of the plan before it was announced.

Under the governor’s plan, the entire liquor retail and wholesale system will be owned and operated by private entrepreneurs.

The plan calls for auctioning 1,200 licenses for retail sales of wine and spirits by county with an estimated $1 billion in proceeds pegged to go for a handful of specific uses in school.

Grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, large retailers, and beer distributors can file an application to simply sell beer and wine and/or bid on one of the 1,200 licenses for wine and spirits.

The system created under the plan would allow for a business be a one stop retail shop where beer, wine, and spirits are sold under one roof.

 “Thornburgh tried and failed. Ridge tried and failed,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-35 of Cambria County.

“I cannot argue with the ideologues that argue that the government should not be in the business,” Wozniak said. “But it makes a lot of money for the state, it largely keeps liquor away from those under 21, the state stores are safe and they provide family-sustaining jobs.”

Wozniak noted that while the governor was surrounded by a group of Republican House members, there were no members of the Senate at the announcement.

Two Republican Senators contacted before and after the governor’s announcement said they have been provided no information from the governor’s office about his plan.

“We haven’t heard anything,” said Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23 of Lycoming County. “We are totally in the dark. Unfortunately, it has been characteristic of this administration that we don’t hear anything until we start getting calls from reporters.”

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