FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Dwight Evans
Evans: House Bill 11 is flawed legislation
HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Phila., said this week's attempt to privatize the state's wine and spirits stores failed because the legislation is flawed.
"House Bill 11 is a badly written piece of legislation and will not bring about the reforms of the state liquor system most people want," Evans said. The amendment debated this week broadened the original proposal to include beer distributors.
"The scheme is bad for consumers, it is bad for taxpayers and it is bad for workers," Evans said. "I do not believe it will live up to its fanfare.
"Nothing the proponents of this legislation claim leads me to believe this is what taxpayers really want, not when they see the return claimed by the sponsor," Evans said. "The debate was greatly lacking in specifics."
Evans said he thinks context is missing from the debate and it only takes a look back to the original arguments made following prohibition. He quotes state Sen. Leon Prince, a Republican lawyer from Carlisle, in a 1933 Senate Journal:
"It consists in the element of private profit. No matter how upright and fair-minded a man may be, no matter in what business he may engage, he is going to make all he can. In order to do this he must stimulate demand for what he has to sell. Mere things, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. They become good or bad according to the use made of them. But this particular commodity, hard liquor, because of the tendency to unwise or excessive use becomes a dangerous article of exchange, and for that reason it is incompatible with public welfare to encourage its indiscriminate use."
"Most people I talk to want a modernized system but they do not want the state to relinquish control over the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. I think this proposal is much more likely to lead to higher prices, a more limited selection of products and less convenience.
"The taxpayers will not see the more than $1 billion revenue returns projected by the proponents," Evans said. "Research has shown me that number is highly inflated. There is certain to be a loss of state revenue – as much as $200 million annually – and an increased potential for higher taxes. My biggest concern, however, is the increase in societal costs we can expect and the loss of more than 5,000 family-sustaining jobs.
"I know we will see lower wages and benefits for those individuals who work for the new licensees and inadequate training for those who hold those jobs," Evans said.