More ammo for booze battle

And so, here in the state that still practices a form of prohibition, comes news that the Liquor Control Board, a.k.a. the booze police, is considering hiking prices 5 percent.

This, I feel certain, will cause steam to shoot out of the ears of state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania's point man for privatization.

The Associated Press reports it obtained an internal board memo saying that due to increased operating costs the board should consider boosting its mark up on liquor and wine from 30% to 35% to make up for the agency's shrinking income.

Turzai spokesman Steve Miskin told the AP the proposal shows the LCB is "misleading itself, the Legislature and the public."

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, representing 7,500-plus hospitality members, immediately weighed in.

"This proposal is yet another example of why the modernization of Pennsylvania's antiquated alcoholic beverage laws is so desperately needed," PRLA president John Longstreet said in a statement.

And a spokesman for the conservative Commonwealth Foundation said the memo shows the liquor-control system is "not a cash cow for the Commonwealth."

The AP quotes PLCB chairman Skip Brion as saying the memo is merely part of an annual financial review, not really a proposal and only an action of last resort.

He did not say "read my lips, no new booze hike."

I expect this development serves is fodder for pro-privatizing lawmakers when they return to session next month.

I also expect they'll then live up to our low expectations -- and do nothing.

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