Senator's liquor plan offers sales, packaging reform but no state store closings
HARRISBURG — With Republican leaders flanking him, a Bucks County senator offered a plan on Tuesday that he said would allow existing liquor licensees to sell wine and liquor to go but lacks a mechanism to close more than 600 state-controlled stores.
Under the latest proposal to reshape the state's system of alcohol sales, licensees such as hotels, restaurants and beer distributors could buy permits for $8,000 annually to expand to sell liquor and wine, said Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, a Republican.
The proposal doesn't have enough support to pass the Senate, said Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, who insisted he is still “optimistic.” He called it “a great starting point.”
His plan suggests a two-year study to determine the future of state-controlled wholesale liquor and wine sales.
State-owned wine and spirits stores “would be phased out over time when the private retail market can accommodate the needs of consumers,” his news release stated.
McIlhinney said his proposal would eliminate the state's 18 percent liquor tax but would provide $140 million annually in profit that could go toward property tax relief for senior citizens.
He did not offer a draft of his legislation for review.
McIlhinney, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, said his plan includes “packaging reform” that would enable beer distributors to sell six-packs instead of just cases and allow bars to sell four six-packs at a time to go.
Sen. Jim Ferlo of Highland Park, ranking Democrat on the committee, called the plan “a cruel hoax.”
“I don't see where the numbers add up,” Ferlo said. He called the notion of property tax relief for seniors a “placebo” aimed at garnering support.
Wendell W. Young IV, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers of Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Council, said the plan would mean “tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”
The House in March approved a bill that would eliminate state wholesale control, allow wine sales in grocery stores and let beer distributors sell wine and liquor. Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, could not be reached.
Lawmakers intend to recess for summer on June 30 after passing a state budget.
“Sen. McIlhinney's legislation is another important step in giving Pennsylvanians what they want: choice and convenience,” Gov. Tom Corbett said. The governor said he believes the Legislature will put a privatization bill on his desk by the 30th.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, said he's concerned about constituents having access to liquor in rural areas if state stores close.
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.
- Trooper fatally shoots burglary suspect inside Somerset grocery store
- Armed bandit holds up Leechburg gas station
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Baldwin-Whitehall teacher charged with assault for hitting male student in chest
- Allegheny Medical Examiner’s Office responds to Coraopolis train-pedestrian incident
- DOJ program goal: Increased trust between law enforcement, community
- Officials envision reinvigorated Allegheny County Airport
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- Struggling Pirates SS Mercer finding himself out on infield’s left side
- Two jail inmates died at UPMC Mercy, medical examiner’s office says
- Starkey: Patriots’ legacy forever stained