Sunday, August 2, 2015

Confirmation troubles for Gov. Corbett's nominee to the PLCB

Confirmation troubles for Gov. Corbett's nominee to the PLCB



The signs of trouble have been there from the start. But it became near official today when Hispanic and Latino groups gathered outside the Capitol to urge the state Senate to move on Gov. Corbett's nomination of Philly lawyer Ken Trujillo to the state Liquor Control Board.

You don't do that if the path to confirmation is clear.

Indeed, three sources who asked that they not be named say the Senate, which only has today and tomorrow left in its two-year session, is unlikely to take up Trujillo's nomination. Why? The votes just aren't there, those sources said.

Trujillo's confirmation requires two-thirds of the Republican-controlled chamber to vote in his favor. That means that Corbett, a Republican, needs not just his own party to step up, but some Democrats too.

And Democrats aren't on board, at least not yet.

Some worry that Trujillo's appointment would be the beginning of the end of the LCB. Corbett, for those who haven't followed this issue closely, would love to privatize the agency, and Trujillo's appointment would finally give the governor two appointees on the the three-member liquor board.

The other problem: the governor's office has done little, if any, outreach or horsetrading to shore up the necessary Senate votes, the three sources said. As a result, there hasn't even been a Senate hearing on Trujillo's appointment, and it is highly unlikely that one would occur before tomorrow - let alone a floor vote.

The governor's spokesman, Kevin Harley, could not immediately be reached for comment.

That means Trujillo's appointment is on track to get pushed to January, when the legislature returns to start its new two-year session. If approved then, he would be the first Hispanic to serve on the board.

The LCB, in the interim, will be operating with two board members only (board member Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III resigned his position earlier this month). Complicating matters: those two board members don't always see eye-to-eye.

And the liquor board has other issues, too, including an inquiry by the state Ethics Commission into whether top officials there accepted gifts and favors from LCB vendors.


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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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