A plan to privatize the state-run liquor system will be the topic of an upcoming town hall meeting with state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, who said he wants to clear misconceptions about the proposal.
The legislation, which Grove supported when it recently passed the House, calls for selling licenses to private businesses, eventually shuttering the 600 state-operated wine and spirits stores.
He said the topic will be the focus of the meeting because there are some misconceptions about the implementation of the plan, which still needs Senate approval and the governor's signature before becoming law.
About 80 percent of the constituent feedback he's received has been positive, he said, because people support the free-market approach and don't think the state should be involved in liquor sales.
"A lot of the comments are, 'And why wasn't this done years ago?'" he said.
But there's a misunderstanding that the transition will be immediate, and people are confused about how the plan would work, he said.
"We'll talk about where you can buy it now and where you'll be able to buy it, break it down specifically and how it will relate to them," he said. "There's a misconception that, when it passes, the state stores will all closed, when it will probably take a year to get licenses out...and another year to ramp it up. It won't be like an overnight thing, boom, gone."
The Republican plan to phase out the state-run liquor stores and raise millions in revenue by selling licenses to private businesses passed the House easily and was sent to the Senate.
The bill would give existing beer distributors the priority in purchasing 1,200 wine and spirits licenses. It also would allow groceries to sell wine and enshrine their current ability -- won through court rulings -- to sell takeout beer.
Democrats warned that it would put thousands of state store employees out of work, cost more and generate less revenue than supporters predict and that it would make alcohol more widely available, bringing with it a range of social problems.
Both sides said the proposal was likely to see changes before being voted in the state Senate.
Grove's Thursday, April 4, event is free and open to residents of York County. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Dover Borough Municipal Building, 46 Butter Road.
No RSVP is necessary, and Grove will be open to questions on topics beyond liquor privatization.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.