EDITORIAL: PA liquor bills make sense

York Dispatch
  • There's a Republican proposal to privatize wholesale wine and spirit sales in Pennsylvania.
  • The plan would also expand the retail outlets where booze is available.
  • State Rep. Seth Grove, a Republican from Dover Township, is a supporter of the proposal.

Anyone who does any traveling quickly learns that Pennsylvania’s myriad regulations on selling liquor are, to be kind, inconvenient.

Critics would call them restrictive.

State Rep. Seth Grove, (R) sits with the York Dispatch editorial board for a discussion about taxes and the state budget. Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Grove is leading a move to privatize the state liquor industry. John A. Pavoncello photo

Of course, many Pennsylvanians are just delighted with the way things are. Their view is that alcohol is a considerable danger that should be tightly regulated by the state. For them, the more difficult it is to buy liquor, the better.

There is certainly some merit to their argument.

Still, selling and consuming liquor is legal in this state and this nation. Our national flirtation with prohibition nearly a century ago turned out to be a disaster.

Given that background, it only seems to make sense that the state should regulate, but not operate, the liquor industry in Pennsylvania. It has long been our view that privatization is the best option for the state’s residents.

It would almost certainly lead to better customer service for those who wish to legally imbibe.

That’s why we applaud State Rep. Seth Grove and his vote in favor of a package of bills that would change how alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania, moving to privatize wholesale wine and spirit sales and expand the retail outlets where booze is available.

The Dover Township Republican is philosophically opposed to state control of alcohol sales. He said the revenue anticipated from liquor privatization is a key part of the budget proposal that House Republicans recently sent to the Senate. The state budget is facing a $3 billion deficit, and the proceeds from liquor privatization could help close that hole.

Grove: Pa. needs liquor privatization funds for GOP budget plan

Led by  House Republicans, lawmakers voted 105-84 last Tuesday is favor of a wholesale divestment proposal.

The House voted to allow more grocery stores to seek permits to sell wine, no longer restricting the permits to stores with seating capacity, and retailers would be able to buy wine from brokers in the private sector.

Of course, the thousands of state workers who are employed in the state liquor stores would almost certainly be opposed to any move toward privatization. That’s natural. No one wants to see their jobs put at risk. Many, if not most, of those workers, however, would likely be able to keep their jobs in the private stores that would ultimately succeed them. Of course, their salaries might take a hit.

Still, in the long run, privatization would benefit millions of Pennsylvania taxpayers. It should help stem the tide of Pennsylvanians who cross borders weekly to purchase their booze in neighboring states, where prices are cheaper and hours and service are more convenient.

“Every day that passes that we’re not able to continue to update our antiquated liquor systems is another day of missed opportunities,” said Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster.

Cutler is right. Every step toward privatization is another step in the right direction.

That’s why we support last week’s divestment proposal.