Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 466 that would have taken the states liquor sales private. The privatization proposal by the state Senate included increasing the number of establishments selling wine and liquor for off-premise consumption from 600 state run stores to nearly 14,000 private retailers.
Regarding House Bill 466: “This legislation falls short of a responsible means to reform our state liquor system and to maximize revenues to benefit our citizen,” Governor Wolf said. “It makes bad business sense for the Commonwealth and consumers to sell off an asset, especially before maximizing its value. During consideration of this legislation, it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers. In the most recent case of another state that pursued the outright privatization of liquor sales, consumers saw higher prices and less selection.”
“Modernization of our state liquor system would provide additional revenues to the Commonwealth and save important, family-sustaining jobs. We can support and bolster consumer convenience without selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers. I am open to options for expanding the availability of wine and beer in more locations, including supermarkets. I have also put other compromises on the table, including variable pricing, direct shipment of wine and expanding state store hours.”
STORY UPDATE 7/6: The Independent State Store Union put out a press release applauding the Governor’s veto of this bill. The release included a throw away line that was just too good not to share. It says says, “With liquor privatization cited as a legislative priority by a mere 2% of voters in the most recent polling data, it is abundantly clear that liquor is not an issue that dominates conversation around the family dinner table. It is now time to put liquor privatization to rest and address the issues identified by the remaining 98% as important to them – issues that have a real impact on the lives and livelihoods of all Pennsylvanians, including both the drinker and non-drinker alike. Grabbing a bottle of Captain Morgan when they purchase a box of Captain Crunch is not one of their priorities.”
A group supporting the bill called FreeOurBoozePA.com claims that “border bleed” is turning Pennsylvanians into bootleggers and costing the Keystone state millions in lost revenue. You can see some of these actual bootleggers and lawbreakers in the video at the bottom of this story. According to a report by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), border bleed accounts for $313 million in losses from retail revenue to Pennsylvania. Cross border purchases by Pennsylvania residents to New York, New Jersey, Delaware and other states total over 900,000 cases of spirits and over two million cases of wine, about 16.5 percent of total sales.
In a press release, Michael Troyan, President of the the states Independent State Store Union claims that taking the state stores private would cost consumer’s more with higher prices on liquor and wine and would hurt consumer’s selection since the overwhelming majority of retailers will limit their stock to the top ten or twenty items.