Special interests write the state store bill

    Back from a few days off, I get a lesson in how Harrisburg works from my old friend and columnist at the Philadelphia Daily News, John Baer. He reports that the legislation under consideration to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania was drafted in part by two power lawyers with financial interests in the issue.

    Both are from the firm Eckert Seamans. One is a lobbyist for casinos . The other is a former lobbyist. The firm is expected to represent people seeking to buy licenses under the privatization plan and has represented beer distributors, whose interests seem well-represented in the legislation drafted.

    Baer quotes Jim Mann, the counsel for the legislative office that drafted the bill as saying it’s “unusual but not unheard of” for a private firm to come in for free and work on a bill like this.

    This touches on an issue I’ve ranted about before in the privatization plan, which is the proposal to auction off a restricted number of liquor sales licenses, so buyers who can come up with a ton of cash get a state-chartered monopoly on liquor sales.

    As I return to town I see Mayor Nutter has grabbed the center city mob issue by the horns, and plans a news conference today which I’ll attend and have something to say on later.

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