Pennsylvania lawmakers have put the cork in privatizing state-run liquor stores for now, but one Philadelphia Republican is still trying to chip away at the state’s Prohibition-era alcohol laws.
House Liquor Control Committee chairman Rep. John Taylor is introducing a bill that would let residents buy alcohol out of state and bring it back to Pennsylvania, a practice that is currently illegal.
“If a Philadelphia resident drives over in [New] Jersey and on the way back buys gasoline, they’re not subject to arrest for it,” Taylor said. “And why should it be any different for alcohol?”
And Pennsylvanians agree — anecdotally at least.
At Canal’s liquors in Pennsauken, NJ, one Pennsylvania shopper said, “The liquor in [New] Jersey is a little bit cheaper than in Pennsylvania.”
“If the drinking age was different, I would be opposed to it. But to get it for a cheaper price? People have the right to shop,” said another. “It’s capitalism.”
Decriminalizing the purchase of out-of-state alcohol would remove the legal threat against Pennsylvanians who are already doing it anyway, said Taylor.
“I think it’s not going to change purchase habits a bit. I mean, I think people are not going to do it any more or any less,” he said. “They’re just not going to be put in an area where they’re going to get arrested for it.”
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores in the state. Beer is sold separately by privately run distributors.