Pennsylvania has been called the Birthplace of Independence, and sometimes, that nickname rings all too true. The nation's second state and first commonwealth is known to have some policies that many say are antiquated enough to have been effective during America's fight for Independence.

Hip Hop artist Sean "P. Diddy" Combs found that out the hard way when the Harlem-native singer took a trip to the relatively tiny capital city of Harrisburg to meet with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. P. Diddy visited with the PLCB to market Ciroc Vodka, for which he is a major endorser, to them.

A vestige of prohibition era laws, the Liquor Control Board is the only body in Pennsylvania that can approve what liquor appears on store shelves. Those store shelves are also, in turn, owned by Harrisburg, in one of few remaining states which have a government monopoly on the liquor business.





As the conservative Keystone think tank the Commonwealth Foundation put it, "Diddy made good use of his time by talking with the one organization that can assure his new vodka appears on the shelves of every liquor store in the state-or on none at all."

Governor Tom Corbett, R-Pa., has been fighting to rid the state of the Liquor Control Board apparatus for some time now, saying that the privatization of liquor stores, in addition to the state revenue earned through the sale of private permits would bloat the state's coffers and fix budget issues in areas such as education.

In a March vote, the State House of Representatives passed the resolution privatizing the state liquor industry, spearheaded by Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.

The next step for Corbett was a visit with a key State Senate committee that would need to approve a forthcoming vote on the bill. Fellow Republican Chuck McIlhinney of Doylestown said following the hearing that he was "on record saying I will not support the House bill," which inserts a roadblock into Corbett's plan for privatization on his terms.

At the April hearing, representatives of MADD and law enforcement unions spoke out in opposition to the House Bill, suggesting that privatization would lead to further occurrences of alcoholism and violence, as well as the risk of an increase in police calls to booze merchants, respectively. McIlhinney said he instead plans to offer his own liquor legislation as the Allentown Morning Call reported his committee will not vote on Turzai's bill.

Little is known about what went on during Diddy's Wednesday meeting with the PLCB. Board spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that the meeting was "quiet" and that Diddy discussed his Ciroc brand with the state-store marketing apparatus.

Kriedeman told the paper that Ciroc's previously marketed brands have sold 58,000 cases at Pennsylvania "Wines & Spirits" stores, and that Diddy reportedly was there in-part to market his upcoming Amaretto variety.

The Commonwealth Foundation reported that 45 percent residents of the Philadelphia region buy "some or all of their alcohol outside of Pennsylvania". Bordering Delaware and New Jersey do not have a 'state store' apparatus. The Liquor Control Board's monopoly on booze sales is not the only facet of Harrisburg's regulations that affect Pennsylvanians crossing state lines for similar vices.

Last year, actor Dan Aykroyd, made a similar visit to the PLCB during which he was seen marketing his brand of booze to patrons at a state store on Route 22 in Colonial Park, Pa., just outside downtown Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania only recently increased the ability for casino and gambling venues to populate the commonwealth, and despite the existence of numerous fireworks 'superstores' near the New Jersey and Maryland borders near the major arterials of I-80, I-78 and US-15, Pennsylvania residents may not purchase any fireworks in their home state, outside of basic sparklers and smoke bombs.