CLEAR Coalition Opposes Liquor Privatization Bills in House Committee

(Harrisburg, Pa.) — The Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues (CLEAR) Coalition opposes the bills scheduled for a vote in the April 3rd meeting of the House Liquor Control Committee.

House Bill 438, introduced by Representatives Mike Turzai and Mike Reese, would establish a “spirits expanded permit” for up to 12,000 restaurant and hotel licensees to sell spirits-to-go in quantities up to 3,000 milliliters. House Bill 991, introduced by House Liquor Control Committee Chairman Adam Harris, would add franchise licenses at a rate of one per 6,000 residents, or 2,000 new total stores.

“The state system of liquor sales is already a successful model providing regular profits and good jobs,” said Wendell Young IV, president of UFCW 1776. “These bills are a disappointing but an expected effort by those willing to jeopardize public health and the state budget just to score a quick buck on new licenses.”

Both bills are scheduled for a vote in committee, even though there has not been a public hearing on a liquor privatization or expansion bill since December of 2011. Since that time, there have been 79 new members sworn into the General Assembly who are being pushed to support bills that have not been vetted during their terms.

The breakneck pace of the privateers’ efforts on liquor is particularly alarming given that we are not but 9 months removed from Act 39 being sworn into law. This was a major law modernizing the liquor system in Pennsylvania, and it hasn’t even had its first anniversary before another attempt to drastically change the system.

These bills also ignore the successes of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Every year, PLCB returns more than $580 million to the state in profits, in addition to employing 5,000 Pennsylvanians. It’s a successful, profitable system full of family sustaining jobs. Adding 2,000 stores to the state will decimate the Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores, eliminating the profits and jobs created there.

These bills will yield a loss of reliable state revenue, access to a broad range of quality products, increase access to liquor for minors and jeopardize public health.

We urge members of the House Liquor Control Committee to vote no on these measures.

The CLEAR Coalition represents more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians fighting for a state budget that funds essential public services, protects family-sustaining, middle class jobs, and ensures that we have a fair system of taxes in our Commonwealth.