Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. House Nears Vote on Liquor Privatization

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. House Nears Vote on Liquor Privatization

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- Legislation to cede wine and liquor sales from state government to private business is poised for a vote in the state House after Democrats on Wednesday found too few votes to gut the bill.

Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said the House would return to vote today, a date lawmakers were not originally scheduled to meet.

"We expect the members to vote with their constituents and pass the legislation to the Senate," said Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans.

Mr. Miskin said it would be the first time either chamber had approved the private sales of wine and spirits.

The legislation creates 1,200 licenses for the sale of wine and spirits, first available to beer distributors, with the possibility of up to 600 additional licenses as state stores close.

Grocery stores could buy licenses to sell wine, but -- unlike under the governor's plan -- not beer, except through existing provisions for restaurant licenses.

The bill contains no deadline for shuttering the state retail system. The state's roughly 600 wine and spirits stores would be phased out as the number of private operators grows. …

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