Deasy: Rushed hearing on constitutional amendment to privatize state liquor system leads to more confusion

HARRISBURG, Jan. 24 – Following today’s meeting of the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee, Democratic Chair Dan Deasy said he stands against legislation that calls for voters to decide the business future of Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores through a constitutional amendment.

“Asking a simple question on a ballot for a complex issue is a disaster in the making. It’s deceptive, and I fear it would result in even more confusion and frustration for Pennsylvanians,” said Deasy, D-Allegheny. “It’s premature because there is nothing in place to address how that privatization would work, not to mention how it would impact state revenue or the 5,000 state store workers.”

Deasy said that last year, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board returned $765 million to the state’s General Fund.

“Where would the state get that money?” he asked. “That’s not a one-time contribution but is provided annually by a state-owned asset. That money would have to come from somewhere. There are too many questions still unanswered. More needs to be done to vet this process.”

Deasy noted that Act 39 or 2016 created a bipartisan commission to research and make recommendations on privatizing the wholesale and retail wine and spirits operations in the state.

“During today’s House Liquor Control Board meeting, there was testimony that commission has not met in the five years since it was created. It’s well past time that commission meet, so we can begin this vetting process and work through these issues and toward what is in the best interest of Pennsylvanians.”