With House plan for Pa. liquor privatization in place, Bucks lawmaker readies chaser

    Backers of a House-approved plan to expand the sale of wine, spirits and beer in Pennsylvania are making their case ahead of an anticipated counterproposal from the state Senate next week.

    Beer distributor Cheryl Umberger of Lebanon County favors the House version, which would phase out the state wine and spirits stores and allow businesses such as hers to sell smaller quantities of beer.

    Umberger says it’s frustrating not to be able to buy six-packs, or even single bottles of beer, from her own store.

    “So I was explaining my situation to an employee of mine who said, ‘Well don’t worry. Just about every week I got down to the six-pack shop to mix up a six-pack of beer. I’ll buy you a bottle when I’m down there,'” she said Wednesday. “Now folks, if the beer lady cannot get access to one bottle of beer we have a situation that’s irreparable.”

    Not all beer distributors agree — the Malt Beverage Distributors Association has come out against the House plan to change how alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

    Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, who is leading efforts to draft a new proposal addressing calls for liquor privatization, said he expects to introduce a plan next week that would allow the phase-out of state stores, include package reform, and liberalize the sale of wine, spirits, and beer.

    A Senate GOP spokesman says it’s possible that’s when the chamber will act on it.

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