Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blow up the LCB? It's a start

I suppose I should be celebrating today.

Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, yesterday introduced his bill to sell off the state stores and get the state out of the booze business.

Sip, sip, hooray! Right?

Uh, not exactly.

I like what Turzai is doing. I think he’s on the right track. I don’t think government should be in the business of selling alcohol. It should be the province of private enterprise, which likely can do it better.

I know all the arguments this move, about revenue, jobs and controlling alcohol sales.

Here’s my problem with that, and my problem with Turzai’s bill.

I don’t really care about those issues. And unfortunately, Turzai’s bill will not accomplish what I want.

What I want to do is walk into my supermarket and, while I am grocery shopping, be able to select a case of one beer, maybe a six-pack of another, or even a single bottle or can. And in the same aisle find a full selection of wines. Any maybe in the next aisle find the spirits for a gin and tonic or vodka martini.

In other words, I want to make one trip. Not a trip to the beer distributor, but only if I want to buy a case. If I want a six-pack, that’s another trip, likely to a deli or bar where I will be gouged for that privilege. Wine and alcohol is still one more stop, at a state store.

Turzai would get the state out of the wine and spirit business, closing the state stores and selling off those franchises to private enterprise.

But it would not touch beer sales in the state at all. It would not allow supermarkets like Wegmans, which is battling these archaic state rules, to loosen restrictions that now force you to buy – and pay – for beer in a separate part of the store. You can’t put them in your cart and pay for them along with anything else you buy at the store.

It also would not free convenience stores to sell beer, which I certainly would find convenient. I’d love to be able to run into a Wawa or 7-Eleven on the way home and grab a cold six-pack, as I so often did in Colorado.

Before you jump to conclusions, I don’t really drink that much, usually not at all except on weekends. But I love a cold beer in the summer as I’m working the grill and a good glass of wine with my steak. Right now that’s two different trips to the stores.

I suppose Turzai’s bill is a start.

But it’s not what I want. I’d like to push the plunger on the way this state deals with the sale of alcohol, and turn the entire operation over to private enterprise.

Who’s with me?


Blogger Dannytheman said...

I am with you!! I am hoping that maybe he views this as a house of cards.

But like you, I want total removal of the State involvement! I want an aisle, or two, in Acme devoted to beer, wine and adult beverage choices. I want one stop shopping, while I am shopping.
No doubt that sales will increase in my mind!

July 14, 2011 at 8:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived in a State where one can walk into a Walmart at 11 PM on a Sunday and walk out with a gun, diapers and a six-pack of Schlitz. It borders on absurdity, but sure was convenient. Alcohol sales were a large source of revenue for that particular state.

I agree that beer and wine should be available almost anywhere. As a concession, maybe the State can keep hard liquor sales within their own stores.

July 14, 2011 at 8:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One needs to look close to home in Delco--the State of Delaware to see that single stop shopping for wine, liquor, and beer works well. I'm not sure their stores also sell six-packs, probably don't. But it sure works better than the archaic system we live with in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Heretofore it has been the strength of the State Store employees union and their Democratic legislative or gubenatorial allies that have precluded meaningful reform. This is a different day! So yes, I endorse all of your points, Mr. Heron. Beer license reform has to be included. But if we have to concede on also getting the six-pack at the same time, so be it. I can live with that.

July 14, 2011 at 6:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for not posting my comment on the post. I'm impressed by the editorial discretion which is exercised by the Heron's Nest. While I was 99% supportive of your thoughts, my post wasn't posted. So next time I'll try to be 100% supportive of the Heron's Nest opinion.

July 14, 2011 at 9:21 PM 

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