One of the deeply maddening things inherent to being a Pennsylvanian is that it is easier and cheaper to obtain heroin than it is a six-pack of beer. The state has controlled sales of both liquor and beer since the repeal of prohibition, which led to good things like a single set price for items being the same throughout Pennsylvania. This also led to PA having some of the strictest alcohol laws on the books.
One of the many outdated laws Pennsylvanians are knowingly (or unknowingly) treated to is something known as the “Johnstown tax.” Why you might think that the reason we pay more for alcohol than most of our neighboring states is merely because of the pride we feel for, uh, keystones, it’s actually thanks to a flood that occurred in 1889. A 10% tax was introduced in 1936 for every bottle of booze that was sold to help divert funds toward Johnstown. And wouldn’t you know it? Not only did the state raise enough money to rebuild the whole town, they decided that people enjoyed the tax enough to make it permanent, even though funds weren’t going to Johnstown anymore. And then they raised it to 15% in 1963. And then again to 18% in 1968, where it remains to this day. Wow! Thanks legislators!
After decades of ridiculous laws, we’re left with commercials like this. I’ve watched this maybe fifty times and it’s still delightful in its absurdity.
Think of the children! Thankfully, after a letter sent from Gov. Tom Wolf to legislators yesterday, it appears that we might be closer than we think to the end of our statewide prohibition. In the letter, Gov. Wolf urged the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to approve licenses to nine gas stations across the state. Though the nine businesses were not named, Gov. Wolf also pleaded with the board to approve similar cases as they come up, meaning that we might see that number steadily increase in the coming years. The PLCB approved the measure earlier today. Rutter’s in Lancaster County might be the first convenience store in the area to sell beer after the Upper Leacock Township board approved their liquor license. Read Gov. Wolf’s full letter here. #FreetheSixPack