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The liquor bill: Disserving the public

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Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

What's worse than what the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed in the name of “liquor privatization”? What the Pennsylvania Senate likely will pass down the road. And it's yet another lesson in what you get when you mistake capitulation for compromise and common sense in pursuit of further disserving the best interests of the public.

There was all manner of back-slapping, high-fiving and kudos this and kudos that late Thursday as the Republican-controlled House passed the first post-Prohibition legislation to untangle the commonwealth's monopoly on beer, wine and liquor sales. But it's like a 7 and 7 with no Seagram's — a bit of carbonation but no kick.

Beer distributors are granted first crack at a new near monopoly and favored state financing terms for wine and spirits licences. Grocery stores can sell wine. But to sell beer, they have to also have a restaurant. Convenience stores can sell beer but have to have a seating area. State wine and spirits stores are phased out. But call a mathematician; you'll need one to figure out the algorithm.

The House measure now moves to the state Senate, also GOP-controlled. Its brain flatulation? It wants to “modernize” the existing Soviet system.

Good grief, are these cats for real? There's not one good reason to not have full and true privatization. Beer, wine and liquor licenses should be available to any businesses that can afford them. Period.

That the General Assembly refuses to endorse common sense, promote true competitive markets and represent the will of the people is unacceptable.

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