By Tony Romeo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania House today will resume debate on legislation that would have the state get out of the business of selling wine and liquor.
The House Monday night began debating the proposal by Majority Leader Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, that would give Pennsylvania beer distributors right of first refusal for 1,600 retail licenses for wine and spirits sales that would be available.
Turzai says Pennsylvania and Utah are the only two states with a complete monopoly on wine and liquor sales. “Why is Pennsylvania so anachronistic? Why is Pennsylvania not willing to focus on its citizens and consumers?”
But Philadelphia Democrat Dwight Evans says just because other states have private liquor sales that doesn’t make it right for Pennsylvania, “because we cannot ignore the social impact that alcohol is having.”
Turzai says his proposal would result in better selection and lower prices.
“We need to be able to provide a single point where you can – as a consumer – make your purchase.”
But fellow Republican Scott Petri of Bucks County said Turzai’s proposal was flawed in many ways, including inadequate protections against one owner gaining too much market share.
“What this amendment does is change a state monopoly into a privately held monopoly. That’s what it does in the end. I believe we can do better.”
Petri believes the legislation should be sent back to committee for more work.