Former PLCB Chairman Announces Support of PLCB Privatization

Former Pennsylvania Liquor Control (PLCB) chairman Jonathan Newman today announced his support of privatizing the PLCB at a press conference with House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny).  Turzai has sponsored legislation, House Bill 11, to privatize the wholesale and retail operations of the PLCB. 

“Jonathan Newman knows the PLCB inside and out,” Turzai said.  “The fact that he favors privatization speaks volumes.  Government has no business selling alcohol.  We have crafted a bill that moves Pennsylvania out of the Prohibition era while at the same time strengthening enforcement of liquor laws.  This is a proposal whose time has come.” 

“The current system is antiquated – all anyone has to do is drive across the border to any of our neighboring states to see how out of touch the PLCB system is,” Newman said.  “I am intimately familiar with the history and operations of the PLCB, as well as with modern retailing practices.  There is no doubt in my mind that due to the inherent problems with the system, there is a desperate need to privatize.  Privatization will lead to greater convenience and better prices.  It is time to stop burdening Pennsylvanians with this backwater system that dates back to Prohibition.”  

The current monopoly system was created in 1933 by then-Gov. Gifford Pinchot, who said the PLCB’s mission was to make liquor sales “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.”  Currently only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control over wholesale and retail operations.  Under Turzai’s privatization proposal, the PLCB’s role will focus solely on regulation and education, removing the conflict of interest that currently exists by having the same entity promote and regulate alcohol sales. 

“House Bill 11 is a commonsense proposal,” said Rep. Tom Killion (R-Chester/Delaware), a co-sponsor of the legislation.  “This legislation responsibly moves Pennsylvania out of the alcohol business, while at the same time maintaining state revenues and ensuring greater enforcement of the Commonwealth’s liquor laws.  Privatization would enable to the PLCB to focus its priorities solely on regulation and education.” 

“The PLCB is an archaic dinosaur that is sorely out of step with the times,” said Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester), also a co-sponsor of House Bill 11.  “The opposition’s arguments against privatizing are nothing but an attempt to protect the status quo and continue on with business as usual in Harrisburg.  The people of Pennsylvania have spoken. Numerous opinion polls have shown a majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of privatizing the PLCB.  It’s time to move Pennsylvania into the modern age.” 

Specifically, House Bill 11 proposal would:

  • Eliminate the 18 percent Johnstown Flood tax and the 30 percent markup by the PLCB.
  • Implement a fairer gallonage tax.
  • Enhance enforcement of liquor laws by providing concurrent jurisdiction for state and local police; requiring retail managers and employees to attend Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training; mandating the use of ID scanners with age verification software; requiring retail operations to be maintained in a separate area dedicated to the sale of liquor and all retail store employees to be at least 21 years old; and subjecting retail licensees to “age compliance checks” to ensure against selling to minors.  Licensees who fail to adhere to these standards will face heavy penalties and possible suspension or revocation of their licenses. 
  • Offer current PLCB employees the following opportunities: hiring preference in other state jobs; tax credits for employers to hire them full-time; and education grants to help retrain employees to perform other jobs. 

The proposed bill can be viewed at, just click on the “House Bill 11” link. 

State Representative Mike Turzai
28th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Stephen Miskin

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