Elections

Pennsylvania Liquor Laws Essentially Suspended For The Democratic National Convention

Attendees of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia are able to drink booze this week — even if it doesn’t comply with Pennsylvania law.

State lawmakers approved temporary “national event permits,” with temporal parameters limited to this week, despite the fact that the state of Pennsylvania is infamous for being one of the most draconian on liquor. These quasi-official licenses allow chosen Philadelphia venues to sell alcohol later than 2 a.m. and authorizes patrons to purchase liquor outside of state-owned store.

The apparent favoritism is sure to upset locals, who are not awarded this privilege because the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the agency in charge of everything alcohol, essentially operates as a state monopoly.

Following the passage of the 21st Amendment in 1933, states were given the power to enact and impose regulations related to alcohol production, consumption and distribution. The governor of Pennsylvania at the time, Gifford Pinchot, decided to implement state laws that would “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible,” according to an editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

PLCB has seemingly followed through on making the purchasing of alcohol a more arduous and cumbersome process. There are only a finite amount of liquor licenses available, specifically only one for every 3,000 residents and liquor can only be purchased at PLCB-run stores. Furthermore, taxes are so high that thrifty booze lovers (especially wine enthusiasts) travel across the border of the state for alcohol; an illegal act that can render a person a “bootlegger.”

Approximately six in 10 Pennsylvanians favor privatization, with the most likely supporters being “frequent wine/spirit purchases, Philly suburb residents, and Republicans,” according to a 2013 poll conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies. But when the state House and Senate passed a privatization bill to the governor’s desk, Democrat Tom Wolf vetoed it, because during his administration’s deliberation “it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers” and “less competition.”

Many Pennsylvanians cannot purchase liquor past a certain time at night and on many holidays because of comprehensive policies that stretch across the whole state.

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