State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) and Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania president Mark Tanczos today joined numerous Carbon County beer distributor owners at Highland Beverage in Jim Thorpe to oppose legislation that would crush most family-run beer distributors and privatize the state-run wine and spirit stores.
House Bill 790, currently before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, would sell off the state's more than 600 liquor stores and allow liquor and beer sales in supermarkets, convenience stores and big box retailers.
"All across Pennsylvania, communities are struggling with record-high unemployment – and this proposal would severely jeopardize the future of our family-run beer distributors, potentially costing upwards of 10,000 jobs," Yudichak said. "Instead of privatizing our state stores, we should look at proposals that modernize our operations – such as allowing our family-run distributors to sell six and twelve-packs – which would generate millions of dollars in additional annual revenue."
Yudichak added that proposals circulating in Harrisburg to modernize the operations of the PLCB, including wine and beer sales, would allow the existing agency to operate at peak performance, and produce up to $100 million in additional revenue.
"Our in-depth analysis of HB 790 reveals that this legislation is not a good deal for beer distributors and will likely result in the closure of hundreds of businesses across the state and the layoffs of thousands of employees," Tanczos, also a Bethlehem small business owner, added. "It is, in essence, a redistribution of an already privatized beer industry to big business that will ultimately hurt consumers through higher prices and less selection."
Tom Highland, owner of Highland Beverage, said that this legislation would destroy his family-run business which has been a staple in the Jim Thorpe community since 1994.
The Senate Law and Justice Committee will hold public hearings at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on the proposed privatization bill. The first will be held on Tuesday, April 30 at 9:30 a.m. A second hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14.