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Ortitay Joins Colleagues in Approving Bills to Further Privatize Alcohol Sales
HARRISBURG — Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) on Tuesday joined members of the House of Representatives in approving a four-bill package of legislation to increase consumer choice and diminish the state’s involvement in the sale of wine and liquor.

The bills come on the heels of last year’s historic changes that allowed wine in grocery stores, increased opportunities for the sale of beer and improved consumer convenience for overall liquor sales.

“I am pleased to be part of history by moving Pennsylvania from the times of Prohibition to the 21st century,” Ortitay said. “Projections have the current state store model running in the red by 2021. Should the taxpayers be forced to subsidize a failing system? The steps taken Tuesday by the House are a proactive approach to not just fix the system, but move the model of alcohol sales into the private sector. This is about convenience, choice and change. At the start of this year, we began the process of reinventing government and bringing Pennsylvania into the 21st century. This is part of that plan, which started last year with Act 39.

“The opponents of this plan say that alcohol abuse will rise, and the streets will become out of control. I believe these fears are greatly exaggerated, as the majority of other states in the country already have a privatized system and are not seeing these problems. It is important to note that Pennsylvania is one of two states in the country to have a state-run liquor system. Government has a set of core functions and selling alcohol is not one of them. The role government should play in alcohol consumption is that of enforcement.”

The bills approved by the House were:

House Bill 975, sponsored by Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), would “free the wine” in Pennsylvania, by allowing all grocery stores — not just those with seating capacity — the opportunity to obtain a permit to sell wine. The bill also would permit retailers to buy their wine from private sector wholesalers, brokers and makers of wine, not from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Finally, it would eliminate the artificial floor pricing requirements, which increases costs to consumers.
House Bill 991, sponsored by Rep. Adam Harris (R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin), would create and make available wine and spirit retail store licenses. This measure would let private entrepreneurs sell wine and liquor through a new class of state-awarded retail licenses designed to boost customer convenience and choices.
House Bill 438, sponsored by Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset), would permit businesses with “restaurant” or “hotel” licenses already selling up to four bottles of wine to also be permitted to do the same with spirits.
House Bill 1075, also sponsored by Turzai, would divest the wholesale system for both wine and spirits. Similar legislation has passed the House in the past two legislative sessions.

All four bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

“It is my hope the Senate takes up this package quickly and sends it to the governor’s desk for signature, as the public has been asking for these changes for a long time,” Ortitay said. “It is way passed time to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”

The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.

Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
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