I have an op-ed up over at Philly.com about why voting for alcohol reform is compatible with Democratic values and Democratic district interests.
Everybody knows urban districts would be better off with nice neighborhood wine stores and liquor stores. Every Democrat I’ve ever talked about this with in my district knows that, and secretly so do the reps:
Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.) and State Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Phila.), my hometown legislators, certainly know that many Philadelphia neighborhoods would gain excellent specialty wine-and-liquor stores with privatization. Investors in new restaurants and bars would love the parallel opportunity to open high-class establishments hosting wine tastings and the like. It’s simply undeniable that lowering barriers to entry for these small-business people would be a boon to our district and other large population centers.
In fact, the new survey shows, if all legislators simply voted their districts’ interests, a coalition of urban Democrats and suburban Republicans would have enacted retail alcohol reform a long time ago.
Now, it also happens that this same coalition of urban and suburban Democrats and Republicans share another interest too – saving SEPTA regional rail and not putting 11,000 more cars on the Schuylkill every morning. And that is exactly what’s going to happen if the transportation funding bill gets punted until 2015 this week. The Norristown and Media-Elwyn lines will stop running if original SB1 doesn’t pass the state House.
The people who are mainly holding up SB1 – suburban Republicans who are tea parties or are scared of tea people challenging them over a vote for a gas tax increase – also want to pass alcohol reform.
This is the foundation for a classic political horse trade.
Urban and suburban Democrats know the alcohol cartel system is ridiculous but are squeamish about selling out the UFCW. Suburban Republicans know letting the Norristown and Media-Elwyn regional rail lines close down and putting 11,000 cars on the Schuylkill would be insane, but they don’t want to sell out the tea people.
The solution: urban and suburban Democrats offer a bloc of votes for alcohol reform, in exchange for suburban Republican votes for original SB1. Both sides gore a special interest sacred cow and do the right thing for their districts.