What Liquor Privatization Could Mean for You - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

What Liquor Privatization Could Mean for You

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The end of prohibition brought the state into the business of booze.

Now a bill, awaiting a vote in the Senate, says the outdated system should be done away with.

Supporters say getting the government out, will make a better marketplace for both businesses and consumers.

Dave Blashinksky sells liquor at Lantern Beverage in Jefferson , Ohio and gets commission from the state, which acts as whole-sale provider.

"In this county... we have two liquor agencies in Ashtabula, one in Jefferson one in Andover and Conneaut and Geneva, so our prices are exactly the same," Blashinsky said. 

Even with private retailers selling liquor in Ohio, the pricing is still controlled by the state.

Pennsylvania could end up with a similar arrangement.

We did a quick comparison on some brand name liquor and wine to see how pricing now compares from Ohio to Pennsylvania.

On the average several of the liquors where higher in PA. 

One premium whiskey was $25.10 in Ohio and in Pennsylvania $22.99.

The same brand of vodka was $13.55 in Ohio and $14.99 in Pennsylvania.

We saw a big difference in one brand of rum; it was $16.99 in Pennsylvania, but in Ohio it's almost four dollars less, at $13.20.

We also checked a popular brand of wine and found it to be about a dollar less at the store in Ohio, $6.99, compared to $7.99 in PA.

"I think it'll make it more competitive because we have more places selling anything it's competition right now we have one place," said Erie customer Phil Kerner. 

"Competition is great, it's what America's about," said Judy Wolfe, also of Erie. 

How the pricing will be determined in Pennsylvania, should privatization move forward, will be a big part of the debate.

We found customers in Erie really like the convenience of more retail options.

"I'm not in a liquor store usually and I would probably pick up a bottle of wine in a grocery store because that's where I usually shop," said customer Cindy Elliott. 

"Saturdays I cook dinner for my wife and I go up to Giant Eagle and buy dinner and I stop here, so it'd be easier," said Kerner, who was picking up some items at Wines and Spirits. 

"I think it would be great because time is of the essence in our lifestyle anymore," said Wolfe, "so the most important thing is to have one stop shopping."

It may not all be good, though. There's the argument that having liquor more widely available will promote underage drinking, and make it easier for minors to get their hands on the bottle.

"The upperclassmen are gonna buy underclassmen drinks and if it's easier and more accessible somewhere else then it's gonna be a lot easier for anyone to get it," said Gannon student Derrick Mausser. 

All these opinions weighing in on the debate, that continues in Harrisburg.

Stay with WICU and WSEE for updates as the bill works its way through the Senate. We'll follow the progress of House Bill 11 through the final vote.

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