Pa. House committee approves different version of Corbett's liquor-privatization bill

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HARRISBURG -- A House committee this afternoon amended Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's liquor privatization plan before sending it on toward floor debate as soon as Wednesday.

The changes supported by House Liquor Control Committee Chairman John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, would give beer distributors an early chance to buy a license for wine and spirits sales. Grocery stores could sell wine but, unlike in the governor's plan, would not receive expanded opportunities to sell beer.

Pennsylvania wine and spirits stores would be phased out by county as private wine and spirits sales increased. Once fewer than 100 stores remained, the Liquor Control Board would be required to shutter its retail operation.

A spokesman said Mr. Corbett was pleased with the vote and would lobby lawmakers to pass a bill.

"The governor always said his bill was a starting point and he was willing to work with the members of the General Assembly," spokesman Kevin Harley said. "That's what you've seen here. This is certainly something that is historic in terms of giving consumers greater choice and convenience."

Democrats on the committee protested the absence of a public hearing on the bill, while Republicans countered that the issue of privatizing state liquor sales has been fully vetted in previous years.

The bill is scheduled for debate Wednesday on the House floor.

Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins and the ranking Democrat on the committee, said his caucus plans to propose amendments.

The House could be called onto the floor again Thursday to continue debate, House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said.

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Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141.


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