Burns launches effort to broaden LCB board, pare members’ salaries

Bills would leave governor with just one appointment, decrease pay 40 percent

EBENSBURG, May 25 – In the first salvo of his effort to reform the state Liquor Control Board, state Rep. Frank Burns has introduced bills to curb the governor’s influence and slash members’ salaries by 40 percent.

Burns, D-Cambria, wants to expand board membership from three to five, giving each of the four legislative caucuses – House Democrats and Republicans, and Senate Democrats and Republicans – one appointment.

Burns’ attempt at political diversity would dilute the power of the governor, who currently appoints all three board members, and would be left with only one appointment.

It would also be a revenue-neutral move, as Burns would divide existing board payroll by five instead of three, paring board members’ salaries from $78,751 to $47,500, and the board chairman’s salary from $81,890 to $49,500. Those pay cuts are approximately $32,000, or 40 percent.

“I believe lawmakers of both parties, in both chambers, should have a voice in who oversees alcohol sales and licensing in Pennsylvania,” Burns said. “An agency of this magnitude would benefit from a broader spectrum of board members providing oversight and guidance.”

A video further explaining Burns’ initiatives is available on his state website.

In an era pockmarked by calls for reform and heightened government accountability – heightened by COVID-19 fallout – Burns said it’s time for everyday Pennsylvanians’ wishes to be more accurately represented through their elected officials’ appointments to the LCB.

“The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is a vast, powerful agency tasked with operating hundreds of retail wine and spirits stores, licensing thousands of venues, and conducting alcohol education and training,” Burns said. “Given its immense reach and say-so, I believe its decision-makers should come from different paths than a three-person board nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.”

Burns’ bills -- H.B. 1149 and H.B. 1150 -- would accomplish his goals by amending the state’s Liquor Code and its Public Official Compensation Law.