Pa. has better alternatives for liquor sales convenience

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In the Post-Gazette’s fanatical crusade to sell off Pennsylvania’s profitable and successful wine and spirits shops, your Jan. 19 editorial (“Liquor Stickler: Republicans Have a Chance to Make History”) took an unfair shot at Democrats.

Contrary to your editorial, Democrats have been leading the charge on improving consumer choice and convenience in alcohol sales in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the obsessive focus on privatization by Gov. Tom Corbett and his allies has prevented legislative action on many common-sense initiatives that would benefit consumers, businesses and the commonwealth.

Last year, I proposed a plan that would provide flexible pricing at Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits shops, expand the hours of operation at those stores and allow the direct shipment of wine to Pennsylvanians’ homes. These changes would mean more special sales and promotions and an unlimited number of stores open on Sundays, among other consumer perks.

Privatization forces conveniently fail to mention that the sell-off of Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits stores would result in fewer stores and less choice in rural areas. My plan would bring more choice and convenience to all Pennsylvanians, regardless of where they live.

Democrats also strongly support changing state law to provide more flexibility for the state to enter into new lease agreements for stores. This would allow for more wine and spirits stores to be located in, or connected to, grocery stores. It would also open up the possibility of wine and spirits stores being connected to beer distributors. This change alone would give consumers more of what they want — the ability to shop for wine, liquor, beer and groceries all in one trip.

Democrats also support reforming the way beer is sold in Pennsylvania. The current system is too restrictive and fails to give consumers enough choice in their beer purchases. We should give beer distributors the ability to sell beer in quantities smaller than a case so consumers can purchase a wider variety of beer without buying multiple cases.

With these kinds of improvements, we can improve the overall customer experience without sacrificing thousands of family-sustaining jobs or hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue to the state. That’s a win-win for Pennsylvania consumers and taxpayers.

Democratic Chairman
House Liquor Control Committee

The writer, of Wilkins, represents the 34th Legislative District.

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