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State Senate appears likely to water down liquor privatization beyond recognition

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
UTMikeColLogoYou might just want to hold that celebration over Pennsylvania privatizing liquor sales.

Despite smiles and warm assurances, the state Senate doesn’t appear to be on board with the bill that passed the state House of Representatives and has support of Gov. Tom Corbett.

In fact, based on what I’m hearing from sources I trust, the best-hope for pro-privatization fans is a weak, watered down version that only sort of, kind of starts the state down the road to getting the state out of the liquor sales business.

Take this statement issued this week by Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the Senate’s Majority Leader and the state senator for most of the Unionville area:

“I believe that we can we make beer and wine purchases more convenient for consumers,” Pileggi said. “I believe we can support small brewers, distillers and family-owned distributors. But I also believe that a little extra time to fully answer the questions raised is the responsible way forward. Since the end of Prohibition in 1933, a little more time to ‘get it right’ for every Pennsylvanian seems fair to me.”

I know, right? 80 years is next to no time to consider this.

But the truth of the matter is that any number of Republican senators oppose the House’s privatization plan and it only takes a handful — three — to tip the balance against the current bill.

Every Democrat opposes the bill on the logic that 3,000 state union jobs are, of course, better than potentially twice as many non-union jobs in private shops. Not exactly voting for the good of the commonwealth there, or the vast majority of their constituents, but it does help explain why the party with a large advantage in voter registration constantly gets beaten at the polls.

Is the House bill perfect? No, of course not. Most of the objections seem to be coming from those whose slice of the financial pie — often a monopoly — are threatened.

But it does get Pennsylvania into the 20th Century, in terms of beer, wine and liquor sales. Any hope of joining the 21st Century is probably an overreach, Pennsylvania politics being what they are.

If Pennsylvania can’t handle this — what hope is there to solve the tough issues such as pension reform?

We’re calling on Sen. Pileggi — and for that matter all of our Chester County state Senators, Republican and Democrats — to lead here, not follow a few monied special interest groups, and do the right thing for the state, its residents and our future.

The time for privatization is long overdue.

* * *

If there was one disappointing thing about the gun buy back program in Coatesville earlier this month, it was the presence of a number of people trying to buy the guns for resale, rather than to get them off the street.

One was a licensed dealer — so one presumes that if he bought a gun, when resold, it will go through the background check process. The others? Not so much.

If they bought guns, we have no idea whether they’ll be used for protection by a responsible person, or end up used for another home invasion, another homicide.

Sadly, these folks go around from buy back to buy back, hoping to entice sellers.

While legal — it is disappointing and one of the many arguments that can be made for universal background checks.

* * *

Finally, a number of people are angry that we chose to run a Letter to The Editor last week from Chris O’Donnell, the Organizer/Business Agent for Teamsters Local Union 384, which has been attempting, without success I might note, to unionize workers at Chester County’s Department of Human Services.

While we may not agree with some of Mr. O’Donnell’s points, we felt and still feel he has a right to make his case in an opinion piece — and it was clearly labelled as opinion. Much as we quite often open our pages to the opinion of local elected officials, we also open them to those with opposing opinions. Fairness and our responsibly to our readers requires this.

That’s how it’s supposed to work in the marketplace of ideas. Don’t like what O’Donnell wrote? Rebut it. Argue the merits of why and where he is wrong. Our pages are open — and many of you have used the comments function to share your thoughts — and we welcome more formal response.

But don’t expect us to suppress one side or the other. We have only one special interest group we worry about: you, the tens of thousands of people who read our pages each week. Offering both sides the opportunity to express their position serves our readership and the community best and we will continue to do so.

 

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One Comment

  1. Kristin Hoover says:

    I have never agreed with the concept of the State being in the business of selling something that is known to impair health….which the State in turn pays many of the costs for medical treatment resulting from alcohol via State programs. However, I now wonder given that it is going to be sold, why the State should not make the money from it? Perhaps I was too hasty in my original thinking that the LCBs should go. I now see how creative thinking is needed to solve State finance issues. Did you know that the biggest issue facing the State of California is pensions from K-12 teachers? One of the ways that people were recruited to be teachers over many years was the idea that you may not make as much as peers in the days when you are working, but your pension and old age would be better. Seems that recruitment pitch worked!

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