Deasy: Privatizing PA’s liquor system too complex to be decided by constitutional amendment on ballot

HARRISBURG, June 9 – In Wednesday’s House Liquor Control Committee meeting, Democratic Chair Dan Deasy voted no on a constitutional amendment that asks voters to decide on whether to privatize Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores. 

“This constitutional amendment is not a simple question, and it seems disingenuous to ask voters to make an informed decision based on a two-sentence ballot question,” said Deasy, D-Allegheny. “Privatizing the state’s liquor system is a complex issue and in the past we have spent years trying to develop a plan to do so without success. This bill would rush that decision onto the ballot, without any serious proposal as to how this would actually work. This doesn’t just put the cart before the horse but would create a dangerous scenario that will leave legislators making decisions in the dark.”

In his remarks to the committee, Deasy noted that should the constitutional amendment pass, the legislature would have 18 months to work out licensing, taxes, divesture of the LCB stores and product availability. He noted that not only would any plan have to be created and passed by both chambers and the governor, but it also would have to be in place and have new licensing underway in order to ensure Pennsylvanians are able to purchase liquor after those 18 months are up.

“We talk a lot about numbers and financial figures when discussing privatization, but let’s not forget that a minimum of 3,500 family-sustaining jobs will be eliminated,” Deasy said. “The workers in state stores have provided amazing service to customers, especially during the shutdowns and product shortages within the last two years. Employees and their families have long faced the threat of losing their jobs if the system were to be privatized, an uncertainty which would only worsen if this legislation is passed. These workers deserve better, and we can’t forget about them.”

Deasy urged his fellow lawmakers to not rush into a politically motivated decision they would later regret. 

“We need to find solutions and work through these issues using the legislative process to make sure the voices of the people we were elected to represent are heard.”