Lawmaker highlights benefits for taxpayers, beer distributors
HARRISBURG – In order to finally remove state government from the business of selling alcohol, state Rep. Rich Irvin (R-Huntingdon/Center/Mifflin) today voted with the majority of his colleagues in the House to privatize wine and spirit sales with the passage of House Bill 466
“Forty-eight other states have removed themselves from the business of selling alcohol for a reason – it’s a conflict of interest,” said Irvin. “The same agency that is enforcing the state’s liquor laws should not be the same agency that is actively trying to market alcohol to Pennsylvania consumers. This makes no sense. We need to once and for all get Pennsylvania out of the liquor business and leave the sale of beer, wine and spirits to private business.”
House Bill 466 is estimated to generate at least $1 billion in upfront revenues from the sale of liquor licenses, along with license renewal fees and the continuation of taxes on alcohol sales. By privatizing the business, the state also expects to recapture revenue currently being lost when consumers cross into bordering states to purchase alcohol.
“I was surprised to learn through my research that within the next six years, the Liquor Control Board is actually projected to be operating at a loss; thereby, costing taxpayers money in order to stay in operation,” said Irvin. “By privatizing the business now, taxpayers can benefit from the sale and renewal of licenses and revenue from taxes on the sale of alcohol, while assuming none of the risk of losing revenue in the years ahead.”
Under House Bill 466, state wine and spirit stores would gradually close once a certain number of liquor licenses are sold. According to the proposal, beer distributors across the state would benefit from having the first opportunity to purchase a license and also being able to sell six packs, 12 packs and growlers, as opposed to only cases.
“We have many small beer distributors within the 81st District,” said Irvin. “It is my goal, and the goal of the Legislature, to support our small business community, which is why these establishments will receive preferential treatment under the proposal. Not only will they have the first opportunity to purchase the licenses, but they will receive a 75 percent discount when doing so. If they should obtain a license, these businesses will be the only establishments where consumers could purchase beer, wine and spirits all in the same location. It is also important to note that beer distributors who do not purchase licenses will still see a dramatic increase in the value of the license they currently hold.”
Irvin noted that House passage is only one step in the legislative process and changes may still be made to this proposal, but he remains committed to removing the state from the business of selling alcohol and instead concentrate its efforts on the enforcement, compliance and education of the state’s liquor laws.
House Bill 466 aims to refocus the Liquor Control Board on the following: retaining tight regulatory control; strengthening law enforcement; clamping down on underage drinking; and promoting education. In addition, under this proposal Pennsylvania State Police officers would be assigned to the Liquor Control Board and, for the first time in Pennsylvania history, all wine and spirits retailers would be subject to compliance checks.
For more information on the liquor privatization plan, go to www.FreeOurBoozePA.com
. House Bill 466 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Rich Irvin
81st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
RepIrvin.com / Facebook.com/RepIrvin