Pa. Senate hears from critics of privatizing liquor sales

    The societal ills that could come with more access to alcohol have been the subject of every single piece of spoken testimony in a Pennsylvania Senate hearing on liquor privatization.

    Drug and alcohol service providers, law enforcement groups, and teenagers have told lawmakers the plan passed by the House could usher in more underage drinking, alcohol abuse, and a variety of other crimes.

    Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, acknowledged that Tuesday’s testimony was “on the critical side,” but says later hearings will provide a platform for the “other side.”

    “I think it was an important part to get that out first,” he said. “When you start talking about the rest of the privatization and the financial issues, that’s a little bit more detail-oriented and more of a policy with our budget.”

    McIlhinney, R-Bucks, has made no secret of his skepticism of the House’s privatization measure, and other Senate Republicans are of the same mind.

    His panel controls whether the plan to phase out state wine and spirits stores advances at all.

    A second hearing is expected to be held in mid-May, with a focus on alcohol retailers and wholesalers.

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