Senator Charles T. McIlhinney Jr. to not seek re-election
Charles T. McIlhinney Jr., or, as most in Harrisburg know him, “Chuck”, who has served as the Senate’s chair of Law and Justice during the most tumultuous time for those who are in the alcoholic beverage business since the end of Prohibition, is not going to run for another term as a member from Bucks County.
His decision to not seek re-election means the Senate will see a new member become chair of this important committee. It also means that the public will lose the services of someone who has relied upon intelligence, reason and restraint to provide solid leadership and govern.
As the organization which represents the most important off-premises sellers of malt and brewed beverages, we thank him for his outstanding service during this difficult time.
We must bear in mind, it was not the General Assembly that threw open the sale of beer to grocery and convenience stores. That was done by the Courts. They ruled, in MBDA v. Wegmans, that a grocery store could, with an interior connection, operate a licensed restaurant.
Given the change that this ruling brought, and the efforts by many thereafter to disassemble the businesses of controlling and marketing alcoholic beverages, Chairman McIlhinney was a strong, steadying force showing reason, respect and an understanding that the private enterprise beer distributors brought their own investment to the table.
As other’s got excited, Chuck was aware of his responsibilities as a “judge of public policy decisions.” He managed to take everything, as he should have, “with a grain of salt”, and in the end only reported from committee proposed legislative changes when it was appropriate. In the final analysis, it was the Bills that Chuck wrote and reported from committee that became law.
Because of Chuck, distributors today are able to sell all packages – a change that was much sought and is now welcomed by our customers. They waited a long time to be able to go into the retail business in their community that provided the best value, selection and service to buy beer in the package size that they wanted – not what the government told distributors they had to sell.
While we may not have agreed with each and every change in the law, we do acknowledge that they all were based upon Chuck’s honest belief that this was fair to all and best for the consumer.
Senator McIlhinney, the MBDA thanks you for your service and wishes you success in your future endeavors.