Key liquor bills pass Pa. House, face resistance in Senate and from Wolf

    A bill introduced this fall by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would add a new branch to Pennsylvania’s school-choice tree — school vouchers. (File AP Photo)

    A bill introduced this fall by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would add a new branch to Pennsylvania’s school-choice tree — school vouchers. (File AP Photo)

    The state House has voted to advance a group of four very different proposals to loosen restrictions on liquor sales in Pennsylvania.

    Liquor expansion is being counted on as a necessary component of the House GOP’s proposed budget for next year.

    But it could face some resistance in the Senate, and will definitely find an opponent in Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

    One of the measures would let retailers sell wine and liquor under one roof — a privilege currently reserved for state Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores.

    Another would expand liquor sales to supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels.

    Two bills sponsored by Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai are more extreme. One would stop Pennsylvania from wine wholesaling, and the other would take the commonwealth out of wine and liquor sales entirely.

    Since the bills aren’t complementary, Liquor Committee Chair Adam Harris, a Republican from Franklin County, said at some point the bills will likely be combined as an omnibus expansion measure.

    “In fairness to all the parties, we wanted to get all those bills out first, so everyone could see them as amended, and now we can sort of chart our path forward,” he said.

    Wolf has said he opposes further privatization.

    Harris said Republicans hope to compromise to some extent.

    “Certainly we’re going to take his feedback, if we can make some changes that would maybe bring him around to supporting some of the things we’re trying to do,” he said.

    The bills now go to the Senate, where GOP Majority Leader Jake Corman has raised some concerns about basing budget decisions on alcohol sales.

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