It may be hard to believe but in 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania still maintains centralized control of retail and wholesale wine and liquor sales. The state House passed an industry privatization bill earlier this year and as the Senate crafts their own version of the bill, it is important that Pennsylvania no longer have a hand in picking winners and losers by restricting consumer choice and convenience throughout the entire liquor industry anymore.

The letter from Americans for Tax Reform can be read below:

Dear Members of the Pennsylvania Senate,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our members across Pennsylvania, I write in strong support of House-passed legislation that would get government out of the business of selling liquor. As you debate this issue in the senate, ATR encourages lawmakers to pass a bill that ends government intrusion into liquor industry distribution and sales, both at the retail and wholesale level.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s government holds a monopoly on the wholesale distribution of liquor and has six hundred state-run liquor stores across Pennsylvania. Requiring grocery stores, bars, and restaurants to purchase liquor from the government is nonsensical in the 21st century. State control of wholesale liquor operations does not benefit businesses or consumers, limiting competition, consumer choice and convenience.

By stoking industry competition, privatization of liquor distribution and sales would mean reduced costs for consumers.

An added convenience of wholesale privatization is the capacity for wholesale distributors to deliver liquor to licensees. By restricting this convenience, the government places an undue burden on small businesses. Additionally, if the government were to provide this service, it would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Private sector wholesalers, on the other hand, provide delivery service nationwide more efficiently and at lower cost to consumers.

Simply put, selling liquor is not a core function of government and it’s hard to imagine how any reasonable person could argue otherwise.

Passage of privatization legislation would be a boon to consumers, resulting in a much wider selection of brands available, with private distributors offering the most competitive prices. No longer would taxpayer dollars be used to prop up state-run liquor stores. This past fiscal year, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s liabilities exceeded its assets by nearly ten million dollars. Privatization would end this uncertainty and nonsensical drain on state resources.

One argument made against wholesale privatization is that it would mean trading one monopoly for another. This ignores the reality of wholesale competition. Multiple large wholesalers compete with each other by fighting for business amongst licensees and retailers. This drives down costs for consumers by encouraging competition between brands.

I encourage you to stand on the side of liberty and consumer choice by passing a liquor wholesale and retail industry privatization bill, similar to legislation passed by the House earlier this year. ATR will continue to monitor this issue closely and educate Pennsylvania taxpayers as to how their representatives in Harrisburg vote on this important matter.


Grover Norquist

Click here for a PDF of the letter.