Entrepreneurial Opportunity Bill to Allow Private Sales of Wine and Liquor Clears House Committee

HARRISBURG – Today the House Liquor Control Committee voted in favor of legislation, House Bill 790 sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), aimed at reforming the way alcoholic beverages are sold in Pennsylvania. This marks the most expansive wine and spirit privatization legislation to pass out of the committee since the end of Prohibition and the institution of the current state store system. 

“Today, the House Liquor Control Committee took a historic vote to reform how Pennsylvanians purchase alcoholic beverages. It is a huge step for Pennsylvania consumers,” Turzai said. “Consumers want change; they understand the current state store system in broken and beyond repair. It is time to get government out of the alcohol business.”  

House Bill 790, as amended in committee, now includes a series of reforms for beer, liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania. The amended bill allows beer distributers to expand their businesses to sell liquor and wine, as well as beer. The bill also allows private wine wholesalers to sell products to Commonwealth customers. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) would still operate state stores until retail outlets are double the current state-operated outlets. 

Turzai said the next stop for his bill would be the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where it would be open to amendments and further debate. 

According to Turzai, the PLCB has a long history of public misfires, including: 

  • Storing bottles in tractor trailers in 100-degree heat.
  • Spending tens of millions of dollars and committing tens of millions more on a failed inventory data system.
  • Implementing the now-defunct wine kiosk program despite recommendations against it.  
  • Launching an advertising campaign about alcohol consumption, basically blaming victims for date rape.
  • Using the board’s monopoly position to market in-house labels at the expense of all other brands – in a sense, creating official state beverages. The LCB’s TableLeaf Wine is grown and made in California, with California vineyards and California workers.

Turzai cited these examples as proof of the systemic problems of a government agency trying to act like a business.  

“Only a business can act like a business and be successful,” Turzai said. “Government has many responsibilities, such as providing an education and ensuring safe streets, clean air and water, but selling wine and liquor is not one of them. We need to get the state out of this business.” 

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. 

Representative Mike Turzai
28th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Stephen Miskin
RepTurzai.com / Facebook.com/RepTurzai / Twitter.com/SAM1963
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