Another year, and Pennsylvania is still in the liquor business

    Pennsylvanians have just celebrated another holiday season, buying their wine and spirits from state stores. That’s despite promises to end the commonwealth’s liquor monopoly.

    Turn the calendar back a few months, and it looked as if there were real momentum for doing away with state stores.

    “It is about reasonable prices and better selection, and more convenience. It is about moving from a public-sector dinosaur into the modern 21st century,” said state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai as he introduced a privatization plan, which was warmly received by Gov. Tom Corbett.

    But opposition arose, from unions, activists fighting drunken driving and religious conservatives.

    Republican State Rep. John Taylor said many Philadelphians who struggle with nuisance bars weren’t so excited about private liquor sales.

    “Every media outlet talks about the exquisite wine and spirits store. I like to point to the ones that aren’t so exquisite, that look like a stiff wind will blow them down, that have bars on the windows and lights that don’t work,” he said.

    A bill voted out of committee would leave state stores with a monopoly on hard liquor sales, but set up competition by allowing some beer distributors to sell wine.

    It’s not clear what changes, if any, will be approved in 2012.

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