By a vote of 114-87, the state House has passed a proposal to take apart the state’s liquor system, though the measure is heading to an unenthusiastic Senate and an opposed governor.
The measure would phase out most state-owned wine and spirit stores and put the state in charge of selling licenses to private retail and wholesale vendors.
House debate went for hours on the merits of the bill – despite the fact that it’s headed for almost certain changes in the Senate.
“I don’t anticipate that they’re just going to pass our bill and send it to the governor,” said Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R- Indiana). “I’m sure they’re going to have priorities of their own. That’s part of the legislative process. That’s OK. This is where we’re at on liquor, and this is where we’re going to start the discussion.”
Governor Tom Wolf prefers modernization – efforts to make the system more consumer-friendly, and more profitable as a result.
“I ran against privatization,” Wolf told reporters on Tuesday. “If it reaches my desk in the present form, I will veto it.”
All 83 Democrats in attendance were joined by four Republicans in voting "no."
A similar privatization measure passed in the House two years ago, but support in the Senate fizzled and went flat. The Senate GOP says the proposal isn’t its top priority.