Corbett to roll out LCB plan

Posted: January 29, 2013

Gov. Corbett is expected to announce his plan Wednesday for privatizing Pennsylvania's 600-plus state liquor stores.

He has scheduled an afternoon news conference in Pittsburgh for the long-awaited announcement.

Though the administration has tried to keep details of the plan private, top Corbett officials have been met with groups with a stake in the liquor market over the last few weeks. In those meetings, Corbett aides have signalled that they want the system squarely in private hands, and that they want to open up the wine and beer market to grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and taverns, and big-box stores.

The governor was also looking to incorporate beer into the equation. Those who attended meetings said administration officials wanted to auction off the state stores and offer some of the licenses to beer distributors, who now can sell beer only by the case or the keg. Groceries, too, would be allowed to apply to sell wine and beer, as would convenience stores and big-box stores such as Walmart and Costco. A big part of the equation - one that has set the tone for privatization fights in the past - will be what quantities of beer and wine could be sold.

Like past efforts to privatize the system, the plan is sure to face an uphill battle in the legislature. Though every recent poll shows voters favor privatizing the liquor system, several Senate Republicans have said they would prefer to move toward modernizing the state Liquor Control Board. And many Democratic legislators have historically sided with the union representing liquor store clerks, which maintains that privatizing will result in a loss of jobs, less state revenue and a likely uptick in sales of alcohol to minors.

   -Angela Couloumbis

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