A toast to Rep. Mike Turzai
His name is Rep. Mike Turzai. He’s a Republican from Pittsburgh. I won’t hold that against him.
Why am I a fan of a state representative from the other side of the state? He is proposing something I have been promoting for years.
Turzai wants to push the plunger on the state Liquor Control Board.
That’s right, not tinkering with expanded hours, or dressing up state stores, or educating clerks on fine wine.
He wants to blow it up. I’ll drink to that.
Turzai today is expected to introduce legislation that would get the state out of the booze business. He’d auction state stores to the highest bidders and also ax Pa.’s 18 percent tax on alcohol sales.
Turzai is doing it for fiscal reasons. The state is broke and desperately needs the money the sale of the system would raise. He’ll get no argument from me. I’ve been voicing the belief that the state should turn this entire thing over to private enterprise for years.
It’s would end the antiquated way the state sells alcohol.
Unfortunately, it would not affect the bizarre method that state applies to beer sales. You’d still have to go one place for beer, another for wine or other spirits. And of course you’d still have to go to a deli or local tavern if you only want to purchase a six-pack, and pay a steep price along the way. If you want a case, you have to go to a distributor. But you can’t buy a six-pack there.
Beer is now being sold by the six-pack in some supermarkets, but they’re few and far between.
Here’s what I want. I want to be able to pick up a six-pack in the local convenience store. I want to be able to buy beer (a single, six-pack or a case), along with wine and spirits, as well as beer and ice all in one spot, preferably while I am buying groceries.
I still won’t be able to do that under Turzai’s plan, but at least it’s a start.
Turzai says the sale of the system’s stores could raise $2 billion. And he suggests the tax revenue could be made up from license renewal and transfer fees.
Any such talk has always been opposed by one rather formidable group.
That would be the United Food and Commercial Workers who represent state store workers. I’m not buying. I think most of those jobs simply would be transferred to private entities.
Turzai’s bill doesn’t really address the beer situation. You’d still face the same obstacles and hoops that you have to jump through now.
And it would be unlikely that wine and spirits would show up in your local supermarket anytime soon.
It would simply close the state stores and turn those facilities over to private enterprise.
But it’s a start.
And I’ll be the first to raise my glass.
Here, here, Rep. Turzai.