Liquor Privatization Faces Slower Senate

HARRISBURG – The confetti has been swept up and the empty champagne bottles cleared away.

The hubbub of news releases, tweets and Facebook postings trumpeting the pros and cons of Pennsylvania’s latest liquor privatization bill has culminated in its passage by the House.

In a nearly straight party-line vote last week, the Republican majority handed Gov. Tom Corbett a victory that he and his allies fought hard for, even though the bill differs radically from his original plan to auction off the 600 state liquor stores.

The compromise plan is designed to phase out the state-run stores county by county, as private operators – beer distributors only for the first year – and others buy at least 1,200 liquor and wine licenses.  It also would allow grocery stores to sell wine.

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Corbett Stops In Erie To Pitch Liquor Privatization Plan

Pennsylvania‘s system of selling liquor began at the end of Prohibition.

Gov. Tom Corbett said the idea then was to make the sale and purchase of alcohol as difficult as possible.

But the governor said Friday in Erie that it’s time for the state to move away from that old system and give “Pennsylvanians what they want — choice and convenience.”

Continuing a state tour, Corbett pitched his proposal to pull the state out of the wholesale and retail liquor business, while infusing $1 billion of the proceeds into public education.

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Corbett Proposes Overhaul To State Liquor Control System

English: Interior of a Super Sheetz in Altoona...

English: Interior of a Super Sheetz in Altoona, PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The private businesses that would get the chance to sell beer, wine and liquor under Gov. Tom Corbett‘s proposed overhaul of the state liquor control system had mixed reactions to the proposal.

Eric White, spokesman for the Berks-based Redner’s Warehouse Markets, which also runs the Redner’s Quick Shoppes convenience stores, said the chain almost certainly would have to get into the beer business just to stay competitive with its rivals.

Lou Sheetz, executive vice president of the family-owned Sheetz chain based in Altoona, said the company loves the idea, is excited about it and believes consumers will be, too.

“We have been proponents of adult beverage sales reform in this state for a long time,” he said.

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