Three cheers for liquor laws

Pennsylvania’s arcane liquor laws could see some of the first reform since the 1930s, most notably with a bill introduced by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to privatize liquor stores. A series of public hearings on the matter will be held across the state in September, including in Philadelphia.

“We’ve had the most movement in the nine years I’ve been here,” said Rep. John Payne, R-Dauphin, of the House Liquor Control Committee. “It used to be if you got a liquor bill in the House, they put 100 amendments on there and it never got to the Senate. Now, we’ve been moving a lot of bills right over.”

“There is a desire by members to expand and modernize our current system,” said Committee Chairman John Taylor, R-Phila. “We’re a little more bullish than some of liquor community, which in the past has been on the control side. We want to strike a balance between control and making things easier for consumers.”

Turzai testified before the committee Wednesday in support of the bill. “The government is supposed to serve the people, not serve them alcohol,” he said.

“I don’t know if we need to privatize state stores, but we certainly need to change the way we’re operating because sales are going up and profits are going down,” Payne said. “If you’re selling more and making less, there’s something wrong.”