Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turzai Bill Would Privatize PA Liquor Sales

“Should the government really be in the business of selling liquor?”

State Representative Mike Turzai posed that question to colleagues in the Pennsylvania House today.

“My answer is a definitive no.”

Turzai introduced legislation that would privatize the sale of wine and spirits in the Commonwealth.

The House Republican Whip says under his plan, 750 liquor licenses and 100 wholesale licenses would be auctioned off at an estimated $2 billion.

He says that money could be used to help patch a ravaged state budget.

Turzai says currently, a 30% Liquor Control Board tax, an 18% Johnstown Flood tax, and a 6% sales tax are assessed during the wholesale to retail transaction. His bill would levy the sales tax on alcohol consumers, rather than the licensees. The legislation would also mimic Florida’s tax model by converting the other taxes into a “gallonage tax” which would range from $2 to $6, based on alcohol content.

Turzai says Duquesne University studied private liquor sales versus controlled sales.

“The study showed that privatization does not lead to increased U.I. fatalities. In fact, the study indicated that licensed states actually have a lower D.U.I. fatality rate than controlled states,” says Turzai. “The study also found that there was no significant statistical difference in underage drinking or underage binge drinking in licensed versus controlled states.”

Turzai says he does not expect much support from Democratic legislators.

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