Senate Needs to Put Uncapped Grocery Store Beer Licenses Back in the Liquor Bill

Yesterday the House passed a historic bill to end the state’s monopoly on retail wine and liquor sales, and liberalize the market a bit for consumers. Unfortunately that bill is still far too protectionist, and doesn’t go nearly far enough to let all retail businesses in on the magic of alcohol cross-subsidies.

Now that the Senate will have to create a bill, they have a clear choice. They can double down on a protectionist plan that is pretty far off from what consumers were hoping to get (beer in all grocery stores), or they can write a bill that is less protectionist, and dare the House to vote it down in conference.

If the Senate comes back with a bill that lets all grocery stores and convenience stores sell beer, with no cap on licenses, the House will have to pass it. Both Houses will have passed a bill, and the pressure will be huge to agree on a final bill to send to Tom Corbett.

With only Republican votes, the coalition for alcohol liberalization still might be too fragile to withstand a major change like that, but Senate Democrats from urban and suburban areas who are pretending their districts won’t benefit from this should help put it over the line. Identify some pro-consumer concessions and a better exit package for ex-state store workers, and offer a bloc of votes in exchange.

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