Friday, October 9, 2015

Bucks lawmaker floats new liquor sales plan

A Bucks County lawmaker thinks he has the answer to the standoff over what to do about liquor sales in the state.

Bucks lawmaker floats new liquor sales plan


A Bucks County lawmaker thinks he has the answer to the standoff over what to do about liquor sales in the state.

Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks) today is sending out a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for what he is calling a liquor sales "alternative" proposal.

The bill would allow more flexibility in pricing and store leasing, expand Sunday sales, allow Pennsylvanians to have wine shipped directly to their homes and allow the Liquor Control Board to open liquor stores within supermarkets and big box stores.

He said the changes would provide better customer service and increase profits for state coffers.

"The bill contains bits and pieces of different ideas," said DiGirolamo. "Everybody wants customer convenience. This maximizes the return profits to commonwealth. I think it makes common sense."

DiGirolamo said the changes would boost LCB profits by $185 million, which, added to last year's profits, would bring the new total to over $300 million after the first full year.

DiGirolamo's plan contains similar ideas to those offered by Liquor Control Board officials at a state House committee hearing last year.

Both the House and Senate passed versions of privatization bills last year but have yet to come to agreement on a plan acceptable to both chambers.. 

House Majority leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) the leading supporter of privatization, said earlier this year that House and Senate leaders are negotiating a plan with the governor's office that one day could phase out state-owned liquor stores and expand private liquor sales.

DiGirolamo has been a long standing opponent of privatization, he said, because of the potential loss of 4,000 jobs, the one-time revenue from the sale and the issues surrounding alcohol abuse and increased access to booze.

It's unclear whether the bill would have enough support to pass the House, but DiGirolamo says his is an idea worth trying. "I'd like to think if it's really about customer convenience that they would do it," he said.

-Amy Worden




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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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