Via Rich Wilkins, Steve Esack has an update on Mike Turzai’s alcohol reform bill that is bumming me out with its protectionism and sell-out to religious teetotalers on Sunday sales. Rich agrees it preserves too much of the current bad market design too, but then comes to the conclusion that it’s not worth supporting. I think the right lesson is that if Democrats were to actually engage on this issue, we could get a better bill.
We could do an end-run around the religious conservatives on store hours, we could get better public health protections, we could get a better pay-off for the workers who’d be affected, we could legalize buying alcohol across state lines and over the Internet, we could unwind the tavern license cartel, etc.
The number of pro-consumer changes we could make to the alcohol market are limited only by our imagination. But since Democrats are unwilling to seriously engage, Republicans have to do what it takes to find the votes only within their own caucus. And to do that, they’ll have to negotiate a bunch of crap deals that’ll make the bill worse. A coalition of urban and suburban Democrats and Republicans could get a decent bill done, but as long as opponents of liberalization have a seat at the bargaining table it’s probably going to turn out stupid.