Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beer World the Distributors Get Most Breaks in Liquor Reform

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beer World the Distributors Get Most Breaks in Liquor Reform

Article excerpt

The latest version of Pennsylvania liquor reform is a beer distributor's dream. Want to add wine and spirits to the inventory? Go ahead. Just want wine? That's OK, too; the license for hard liquor will be held in abeyance in case the beer distributor has a change of heart.

Under an amended liquor privatization plan that could come up for a vote as early as today, beer distributors get all sorts of advantages over other private merchants looking to obtain any of the state's proposed 1,200 retail wine and spirits licenses. And consumers would be left with not as much convenience as they deserve.

First, the 1,138 beer distributors get first crack at the licenses. They have 12 months to apply, and only after that would the option open up for others.

Second, the rates that distributors would pay for a license are a fraction of what it would cost other businesses. For instance, a beer distributor in Allegheny County would pay $82,500 for a wine and spirits license, but another applicant would be charged $397,500. And only beer distributors would be eligible for four- year financing from the state by paying a 5 percent fee.

Third, the beer distributors would continue to be insulated from competition on selling beer. …

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