Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Private Liquor Store Supporters Say Effort Has Failed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Private Liquor Store Supporters Say Effort Has Failed

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- With Gov. Tom Corbett at his side, the main legislative proponent of privatizing the sale of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania said Tuesday that he is putting aside his efforts for now to focus instead on the state budget measures that must be passed by the end of next week.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, acknowledged that he does not have enough votes to approve a liquor- privatization bill but pledged to renew his push this fall.

"Right now we can't get it over the goal line," Mr. Turzai said. "It's clear that people are supportive of privatization; it's common sense. Consumers are expecting it. But to get to the sweet spot, to garner the support in the House, is going to take additional work."

While Mr. Turzai and other supporters of getting the state out of the business of selling alcohol -- including the Republican governor -- have pointed to broad public support behind the idea, opposition from multiple sides has dogged the proposal since the Republican lawmaker first unveiled his plan last July.

Democrats, union members and even some Republicans have been critical of potential impacts on those currently employed by the state liquor stores, as well as on properly controlling alcohol sales.

"I think it's great news for all the employees of the Liquor Control Board, who can breathe a sigh of relief," said Wendell Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, whose yellow-shirted members maintained a presence in the state Capitol over the past week.

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said in a statement that the privatization plan was "flawed," and touted the existing system as "an asset that generates reliable annual revenue for the state."

Tuesday's announcement came as the Liquor Control Board was facing another round of critical headlines. The Philadelphia Inquirer -- following up on an earlier confidential report from the state Inspector General's Office alleging that the agency's administrative judges spent portions of their work days running errands -- obtained a second private report stating that several top LCB officials have accepted gifts and favors from vendors. …

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