Liquor licensees and consumers must not get lost in privatizing shuffle

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All are aware of the ongoing banter from Harrisburg related to privatization of liquor stores. Our governor and other powerful legislators have been pushing hard for it. I've read the governor's first proposal and all subsequent news releases, trying to understand all sides of the argument.

The Pennsylvania House took a first step and approved the 194-page House Bill 790. But what will the final document look like? How much influence will the laundry list of special interests have in the end? Unfortunately, there are no substantial answers as all information that is available is pure speculation.

Recently, my offices have been deluged with calls wanting to know my take on the issue. I've seen many governors come and go and each has had his own ideas about privatization. With the exception of small but frequent changes in the liquor code, nothing major ever seemed to come of it. Even today, on the table still remains the concept of leaving things essentially status quo.

No doubt, the driving force behind this change is the huge windfall for Pennsylvania's coffers, but there never seems to be enough to satisfy bigger and bigger government (i.e., casinos and lottery). Any changes must clearly and substantially benefit all affected citizens.

When the Senate hearings start on April 30, they should be sure to build in substantial guarantees that will ensure less expensive liquor, beer and wine, for all, across the board, for an extended period. Bars and restaurants are a very important part of our economy, and any severe, radical, changes could cause it to go on tilt.

Please, legislators, vote to keep the interests of your consuming constituents and all liquor licensees across the commonwealth from getting lost in the shuffle.

NED SOKOLOFF
President and CEO
Specialty Group
Ross

The writer's group offers specialized business services for bars and restaurants. It is a liquor license brokerage, lender and real estate company specializing in the sale of bars and restaurants.


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