Key Liquor Bills Pass PA House, Face Resistance In Senate

Apr 26, 2017

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state House has voted to advance a group of four very different proposals to loosen restrictions on liquor sales in Pennsylvania. Liquor expansion is being counted on as a necessary component of the House GOP's proposed budget for next year. 

Credit Thomas Hawk / Flickr / bit.ly/1LQRp93

But it could face some resistance in the Senate, and will definitely find an opponent in Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

One of the measures would let retailers sell wine and liquor under one roof--a privilege currently reserved for state Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores.

Another would expand liquor sales to supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels.

Two bills sponsored by Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai are more extreme. One would stop Pennsylvania from wine wholesaling, and the other would take the commonwealth out of both wine and liquor sales entirely.

Since they aren't complementary, Liquor Committee Chair Adam Harris, a Republican from Franklin County, said at some point the bills will likely be combined as an omnibus expansion measure.

"In fairness to all the parties, we wanted to get all those bills out first, so everyone could see them as amended, and now we can sort of chart our path forward," he said.

Governor Tom Wolf has said he opposes further privatization.

Harris said Republicans hope to compromise to some extent.

"Certainly we're going to take his feedback, if we can make some changes that would maybe bring him around to supporting some of the things we're trying to do," he said.

The bills now go to the Senate, where GOP leader Jake Corman has raised some concerns about basing budget decisions on alcohol sales.