Blow up the LCB? It's a start
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?