Dems want to modernize, not privatize, liquor system, Costa says
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:30 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Lawmakers and lobbyists said on Monday that relinquishing state control of the wholesale system of liquor and wine sales remains an obstacle to passing liquor privatization in the Senate.
Senate Republicans are scheduled to debate privately on Tuesday the pros and cons of wholesale divestiture and retail privatization, as legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett attempt to resolve major issues by the constitutional budget deadline of June 30.
Under a proposed Senate plan, grocery stores with “R” restaurant licenses that permit beer sales could add wine and spirits carry-out sales. They would get a discount over wine and liquor sold at state stores, which would not be eliminated.
Several officials and lobbyists described the plan, though it was not publicly available.
It differs sharply from a House-passed privatization plan approved in March, which would phase out the 600-plus state stores, move the state out of wholesale control and allow wine sales in grocery stores. It would make beer distributors — with expanded licenses — one-stop shops for buying beer, wine and liquor.
Pennsylvania and Utah are the only states maintaining wholesale and retail control of liquor and wine sales.
If Senate Republicans want the chamber to approve a liquor privatization bill, they must do it themselves, the Senate Democratic leader said.
Minority Leader Jay Costa of Forest Hills made the comments at an informal news briefing at which he discussed the possibility of Republicans offering some type of bill to privatize the liquor system.
“We have 23 votes to modernize ... not privatize,” Costa said.
The Democratic votes, he said, are for keeping state stores, but improving them with proposals such as expanded hours and improved flexibility in pricing.
Republicans, who control the Senate 27-23, had said they might vote this week, but it's uncertain whether that will happen. It takes 26 votes to pass a bill. Republicans hope to get some Democratic support.
Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks County, will discuss his plan on Tuesday at a news conference.
House Republicans consider divestiture of the wholesale system a goal, said Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods. When asked whether that's a deal breaker, Turzai said: “It has always been a crucial component” to House GOP plans.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- UFO, Bigfoot encounters to be discussed at Connellsville library program
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march
- Chat with Dejan Kovacevic: April 18, 2014
- ‘Going downtown’ with dad, mom in ’50s among Connellsville native’s treasured memories
- Crash victim dies day after ‘horrific’ wreck in Armstrong County
- Chef named for Pittsburgh’s new Kimpton hotel restaurant
- Kovacevic: Panic over Pirates? In April?
- Undersized rookie Gibbons is blur on ice for Penguins
- Resurfacing part of Route 119 on list of PennDOT projects in Connellsville area