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Privatizing liquor: Smelling rats

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Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
 

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati says there's little Senate support for a House bill giving beer distributors first crack at wine- and liquor-sales licenses and little time to consider it before lawmakers' June 30 recess. The Jefferson County Republican should be saying Pennsylvanians deserve full, flat-out privatization — not half-measures watered down at pernicious special interests' behest.

The Senate deferred to the House on privatization. And numerous groups want to have their say. But United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which represents about 3,000 state-store workers, remains a major stumbling block — and apparently has surprising legislative allies.

The union hired lobbying firm Long Nyquist and Associates, founded by a longtime aide to Republican Robert Jubelirer, the former Senate president pro tem. And last year, its consulting arm did $1 million-plus in campaign work for, among others, at least seven Senate Republicans and three House Republicans.

Perhaps that's why full, flat-out privatization — which should be a no-brainer for Republicans — still faces such an uphill fight despite GOP control of both chambers and a GOP governor.

If so, special interests defending the Liquor Control Board's statist status quo are taking priority over the public's interests. And no Republican should be complicit in blocking full, flat-out privatization at the behest of a union that for too long has dictated alcohol policies for all Pennsylvanians to protect its privileged few.

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