The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 9, 2013

JOHN FINNERTY | Beer battle brews

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett is playing a Clintonian language game in asserting that lifting the cap on the oil company franchise tax is not a tax increase. But it may be a game that other Republicans are willing to play along with, as they struggle to maintain their conservative cred while finding a way to fix our roads and bridges. Most lawmakers I talked to this week seemed to think that of all the governor’s priorities, the transportation plan seems the most likely to succeed.

Getting the no-tax increase crowd to go along with the need to spend billions to fix roads and bridges will be much easier than getting lawmakers to approve a measure that could destroy the businesses of constituents.

The only time in my newspaper career that I got scolded in church came after I wrote an editorial advocating privatizing liquor sales. For clarity, it was not the priest who scolded me.

Regardless, I know where lawmakers are coming from when they give voice to serious apprehension about tinkering with a beer distribution system that has created hundreds of family businesses all over the commonwealth. Eighty years from the end of Prohibition, some of those businesses are now in their third or fourth generations.

Many people are vaguely interested in seeing beer in the grocery store or convenience store. But few people have as passionate opinions on this subject as those whose livelihoods literally depend on whether the state privatizes liquor and beer sales or not.

The governor says that beer distributors will have the right to apply for licenses to sell wine and liquor, too. But in that deregulated environment, most people think the little guys will not be able to compete for long.

My favorite quote of the week that I didn’t get to use: “Your neighborhood beer seller, he can kiss his rosy rump goodbye.”

That’s from Rep. Gary Haluska, a Cambria County Democrat. But he was by no means the only lawmaker to express similar sentiments. He just did it more colorfully.

While there are those who defend the state store system, there seems to be much more entrenched opposition to any move that will be perceived as an assault on the beer distributors.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 17, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads