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GOP leader Turzai says he will keep pushing for liquor privatization

| Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
In this June 30, 2012 photo, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett shakes hands with Rep Mike Turzai, majority leader, after signing the 2012-13 state budget during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. In the flurry of budget activity earlier this month, Pennsylvania legislators passed what some are billing as the most sweeping changes to the State System of Higher Education since its formation in 1982. To give the 14 state-supported universities the ability to raise more revenue, new laws clear the way for the colleges to begin offering doctorates and allow professors to 'commercialize' their research or new products to financially benefit both themselves and their university. (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Joe Hermitt)

HARRISBURG — The drive to divest the state from the sale of liquor is far from dead despite the lack of support to pass legislation this year, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said on Thursday.

The Bradford Woods Republican said he will make another push to sell the state stores in the 2013-14 session.

“Oh no, not at all,” Turzai said when reporters asked him whether the fight to privatize liquor stores is over.

It's been a stumbling block for previous governors who favored privatization. Former Republican Govs. Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge were unable to win legislative support primarily because of opposition from the union representing state store workers.

“We completely changed the dynamics,” Turzai said after the 2011-12 session ended on Wednesday.

“This is one session. We put the spotlight on” the Liquor Control Board.

“It's been an agency interested in taking care of itself,” he said.

If the Senate confirms Gov. Tom Corbett's nominee to the control board — Kenneth Trujillo, a Philadelphia lawyer and Democrat — the Republican governor would have two of the board's three members.

That would help the overall effort by having an agency that's not “an impediment to real change,” Turzai said.

Though Turzai presented several privatization plans, Corbett will have to tell lawmakers how he would change the liquor system for a plan to gain momentum, Turzai said.

Corbett has been supportive of the concept but has not publicly laid out a plan. He will do so next year, spokesman Kevin Harley said.

Brad Bumsted is thestate Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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