Pa. state house explores liquor store privatization

    Members of the Liquor Control Committee listened to testimony from House Speaker Mike Turzai on his plan to sell off the state’s 621 liquor stores and auction more than twice as many liquor licenses to private retailers.

    Turzai says the bill was written to serve consumers: providing more choice and convenience to Pennsylvanians who are purchasing wine and spirits.  But, he said, the bill won’t please everyone.

    “There’s no ‘the’ model.  We know that.  Anytime you’re going to have a transition, it’s going to have an impact,” said Turzai.  “So how do you make the transition as seamless as possible?  On the employee front we offer tax credits, we offer vouchers and we offer civil service points.” 

    Several rows of seats in the hearing room were filled with people wearing the yellow shirts of the union representing some-five thousand employees of the Liquor Control Board who would lose their jobs at the state-run stores.

    Committee members are weighing other concerns-–like how much revenue the state would get from selling liquor licenses.  Turzai says the state can expect $2 billion.

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