Mash of Pa. proposals on liquor privatization could ferment until fall

    A plan to expand access to wine, beer, and spirits is advancing in the Pennsylvania Senate as the Senate’s counter-offer on liquor privatization cleared a key committee Monday in a close vote.

    In the process, a House plan to phase out state liquor stores and sell the commonwealth’s wholesale operation was officially deleted.It was replaced with language that would expand what type of retailers can sell the trio of wine, beer, and liquor while allowing the state to dictate when to close state stores.

    Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, calls the vote a starting point for his proposal.

    “This is the start,” he said. “I put a proposal out there, and through this week it could easily get done if there’s compromise and desire on not just the Senate, but on the House and the governor’s part as well.”

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    McIlhinney emphasized the proposal’s progress won’t be dictated by the frenzy to finalize the state budget in the last days of the legislative session.

    “I’ve been on the record for months saying this was not a budget issue.” he said. “It was something that the governor would like to see done during the budget but there is nothing tied to the budget itself here, and this could easily be something that we could do in the fall.”

    Compromise is the only way this measure will make it to the governor’s desk.

    And even Senate Republican support for the plan is uncertain. The chamber’s president pro tem says he still has concerns about the bill, but voted for it in committee to move it along.

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