State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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No details, but GOP leaders talking about liquor again

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 8, 2014 3:45 PM
Thumbnail image for liquorstore.jpg

Photo by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website

The push for liquor privatization in Pennsylvania is back, after months of being eclipsed by other issues in the state Legislature.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, the Capitol's most dogged legislative supporter of privatization, said Republican legislative leaders are talking once again about a plan to phase out state liquor stores.

Turzai didn't share details Tuesday, but said the fact that it's an election year works to the advantage of those who support selling off the state's wine and spirits system.

"I think it's helpful because it's a very, very tangible thing that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians want and it's true for every demographic and it's true for every region in the state," Turzai said.

On the Senate side, there appears to be some agreement with that.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati said this might be the year to change the state's patchwork system of regulating alcohol sales.

"Personally, I think what translates best around here is consumers need to see something in their hands this year if we're going to do something," Scarnati said. "They need to see something - a change. And some of those changes are, relatively, I think, not that difficult to make."

In the past, Scarnati has supported some move short of privatization. He prefers changes that would keep the state stores open in less-populated areas and make it more convenient to buy alcohol throughout the commonwealth.

House lawmakers passed a privatization plan last spring, but progress stalled as Senate lawmakers took the measure under consideration.

Turzai said the fact that transportation funding has been crossed off lawmakers' to-do lists might make it easier for the Senate to advance a liquor privatization plan.

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