Thomas Mehaffie, President of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association, today issued the following statement upon learning that Governor Tom Wolf has signed a veto of HB 466, the so-called privatization bill:
HB 466 would have destroyed the portion of the Commonwealth's system of marketing alcoholic beverages that since 1933 has been in the hands of private industry.
If HB 466 had become law, it would have eliminated most of our small, family owned and operated businesses because it's provisions would destroyed the niche markets upon which our investors and our 10,000 employees have relied.
HB 466 would have, in effect, had the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania renege on an 80-year-old promise it made to Pennsylvania businesses, and upon which generations of beer distributors have trusted, worked and invested.
Beer distributors are specialty retailers. We provide an important service to those Pennsylvania consumers who choose to buy our products. Our investment means that our future is involved with each sale, and we have the strongest motivation to obey the laws.
Had Governor Wolf allowed HB 466 to become law it would have sent a clear message to all Pennsylvania businesses that they cannot rely on the Commonwealth's commitments in the future.
HB 466 would not have improved on consumer prices while it would have made alcohol more readily available – which responsible citizens know is not a social good. Meanwhile, the experience from the State of Washington is that it clearly would have destroyed selection as the new sellers would only be marketing those brands that are popular, heavily advertised, and fast moving. The thousands of new outlets would have crushed future customer selection and most consumers would have had less market selection than today. Grocery and big box stores there limit selection and lock up liquor.
We appreciate Governor Wolf's veto and ask the General Assembly to move on to more pressing social issues.