The state House of Representatives recently opened debate over whether the sale of liquor and wine should be turned over to private businesses.
Briefly. Mike Turzai of Allegheny County, leader of the House Republican majority, was pushing the plan that seems to be the closest to making liquor store privatization in Pennsylvania a reality. It calls for replacement of the present network of 620 state-owned stores with as many as 1,600 privately owned stores.
And more than 1,000 beer distributors would get the first shot at buying the retail liquor and wine licenses, with the rest auctioned off.
The state would get a tidy sum for those licenses and ongoing annual fees, money sorely needed given the state's General Fund debt, various budget shortages to important programs and a looming debt crisis.
And consumers would get all the benefits of private competition greater, broader selection and almost certainly lower prices. But Turzai quickly threw in the towel when he saw he couldn't get the votes to make his proposal happen.
We've been scratching our heads trying to figure out why this is a bad thing and why it is taking so long to get to a privatized liquor system similar to what all of the rest of the country has.
The only thing we can come up with is that much of Pennsylvania's leadership is comfortable with the cozy relationship it has with the liquor store labor structure and cares more about that than what makes practical sense.
There's way too much of that in Pennsylvania and that has become unsustainable.