Looks like Republicans in the state House are going to try to prove that they aren’t simply talking the talk when it comes to privatizing Pennsylvania’s liquor stores. Apparently they’re pushing hard for a vote on a bill that if passed would put the Liquor Control Board’s 600-plus Wine & Spirits Shops out of business, and a thousand or more licenses to sell booze up for auction. And that vote, according to what former LCB Chairman and staunch supporter of privatization, Jonathan Newman, tweeted this morning, could happen as soon as Monday. That’s not saying it will, or even if it does, that it will fly. There are still many hurdles to clear before booze sales in the Keystone State go to the private sector.
As we mentioned last week, GOP State Senators are not completely on board with the current plan, and business leaders in the private sector are reluctant to get behind what they perceive as a half-baked and flawed bill. Earlier this week, another S.N.A.F.U. presented itself: An agreement between Governor Corbett and the state store workers’ union that would require any potential private sector booze merchants to hire ex-PLCB employees’ and provide them with the same salary and benefits, while honoring their contracts until they expire in 2015 could be scaring off prospective buyers. And then there’s the matter of liquor store privatization being a low priority as lawmakers in Harrisburg begin tackling the state’s budget.
As we’ve cautioned before, don’t hold your breath waiting for a vote or any other move toward privatization.