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Pennsylvania’s Election Battleground Status Will Capture Nation’s Attention In 2024

Pennsylvania Election Battleground
Alex Baloga

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:42 am

Assessing Pennsylvania’s status as a battleground state in the 2024 election, Alex Baloga didn’t mince words.

“To say that it’s going to be a wild next year is probably putting it mildly,” said Baloga, who is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.

For the first time in 12 years, the Pennsylvania House is under Democratic control following the 2022 election. However, that control is minimal – it holds the majority by a single seat. That margin, along with a new governor and a Republican-controlled state senate, muddled the most recent legislative meeting. PFMA logo ridge scholarship podcast Zajac members

“There’s been some hiccups and a little bit of stalemate … over the last nine months,” Baloga said. “But we’ll see what happens in the fall.”

Next year won’t be much different. Alongside what promises to be an eventful presidential election, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. will be seeking re-election. In addition, all 203 of the state’s house seats are up.

“It’s going to be a big deal. Pennsylvania is a battleground state, one of the few left in the country,” Baloga said. “[It will be one] the whole country is watching.”

The full-time legislature began its most recent session Sept. 18. According to the PFMA website, the organization is prioritizing issues such as business taxation, supply chain regulatory reform, infrastructure investments and food assistance changes.

Baloga spoke to the organization’s efforts to get spirit-based ready-to-drink cocktails in grocery stores. “Over the last decade or so, we’ve made a lot of headway with being able to sell wine, beer, those types of changes. This is the next logical step,” he said.

Since the repeal of Prohibition, the state has had full control of the sale of alcoholic beverages. While retailers can now sell wine, beer, seltzers and some RTD cocktails, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has a monopoly on selling spirits. The state-owned Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores are the retail arm of the PLCB.

However, private brands have loopholes. Large supermarkets such as Giant Eagle, Redner’s Markets and Weis Markets have been able to sell alcohol with restaurants attached to the main building. According to a previous article in The Shelby Report, ShopRite has opened at least one store with a Fine Wine & Good Spirits attached.

PFMA wants consumers to be able to buy spirit-based RTD cocktails in grocery stores.

“These products [are] the top-selling…item in the whole country,” Baloga said. “Obviously, the public wants these. In many cases, they believe they can already get them or don’t understand why they can’t. We’re trying to bridge that gap and get the customer the product that they want.”

Baloga was optimistic the PFMA would prevail on the matter.

“There’s a lot of support and a lot of agreement from all different sides, different advocates, different entities in the legislature, outside the legislature…it’s just a matter of finding the kind of sweet spot between all the parties to get that done.”

The organization’s last attempt at passing a similar bill “stalled out” in the senate, according to Baloga.

Retailers in the state are also falling victim to organized retail crime. PFMA supports SB 596, which would appropriate funds within the Office of Deputy Attorney General for an ORC theft investigative unit. This proposal was modeled after those in states such as Delaware, Illinois and Michigan, which have established similar taskforces.

Read more market profiles from The Shelby Report.

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