The Pennsylvania General Assembly recently returned from its summer break and with that return comes a renewed discussion of the Governor’s plan to privatize the Pennsylvania State Liquor Store System. The Morning Call, a Lehigh Valley newspaper recently reported that the liquor privatization debate is starting to once again heat up and sides are starting to polarize. Whether or not this issue ultimately moves forward this year or not, Pennsylvania consumers can cite some benefit just from the discussion thus far. Specifically, the PLCB has recently announced expanded hours in more than 100 of its Wine and Spirit stores, the opening of more "premium" or super stores which offer wider selections and Sunday hours, and this past spring, amidst all the discussion of liquor privatization, the legislature was pushing hard to permit direct shipment of wine to consumers. The direct shipment bill appeared to have much more support, notably bipartisan support, than the overall privatization plans.
It appears that as long as the liquor privatization discussion remains in the forefront, both of our legislators’ and the public’s mind, the PLCB seems determined to expand its offerings and the legislature appears to have a desire to permit more flexibility, all of which is conceivably to the benefit of consumers.
So even if the privatization plans can not garner enough support to implement wholesale changes to the system, it appears that consumers may benefit just from the discussion. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds through the fall legislative session.
Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including Business Law and Liquor License matters.