HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — For decades, Republicans have tried to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business, but have been unsuccessful. However, a new approach that would let voters decide may have the GOP popping champagne corks in the next few years.
“I want to take the government out of the liquor business very simply put,” said State Representative Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny County).
Simple to say, but not so simple to do. Rep Mihalek wants to privatize Pennsylvania through a constitutional amendment that would silence the governor and empower Pennsylvanians.
“Prohibition ended 88 years, I just think it’s finally time to take this to the private sector,” Mihalek added.
Democratic Senator Jim Brewster is opposed to liquor privatization because alcohol sales brought in $813 million last year for Pennsylvania and employed thousands of workers.
“I’m here to defend the taxpayers and the employees,” Brewster added.
“The hypocrisy in Harrisburg is so annoying to me. We brag every day about the creation of jobs and here we are with the stroke of a pen we could eliminate 5,000,” Brewster said. “If somebody wants to bargain that away because they think something’s gonna get better I’m old-fashioned you gotta prove that to me.”
Mihalek is certain privatization will pass thanks to a recent push to let voters pass amendments, and polls back her up.
“This is something Harrisburg has struggled with and I think it’s time once and for all for the voters to decide,” Mihalek said.
But, if public popularity is the metric, Brewster wonders why his amendment to legalize marijuana never moved.
Also this, “I have a bill to eliminate per diems. you know the public wants us to stop taking per diems. I can’t get anyone to run the bills. why is that?” Brewster said.
Mihalek will introduce her bill next week and the House will have a public hearing on Monday morning, Jan. 24.