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Politics & Government

Corbett Pushes Liquor Privatization Ahead of Expected Action in Senate

At an umpteenth press conference called by the governor on liquor privatization, press aides futzed around, arranging a people asked to stand around the podium with ready smiles and applause.

The state Senate is next to act in this saga that began with a plan to close down the state wine and spirits stores.

State lawmakers have less than three weeks before the governor's deadline for passing a liquor privatization bill. Much is still unknown about how the process will unfold.

Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Montgomery) is drafting a counter-proposal to what the House offered. He has said his measure would allow for the phasing-out of state stores while expanding where wine, beer and liquor can be sold.

At Wednesday's press event, Gov. Tom Corbett said he's not creating any hard and fast rules for what the bill must have to receive his support.

"My ears are open. We will listen to everything," he said. "But they have to give us a bill that is acceptable, that gives the people choice and convenience."

McIlhinney isn't revealing details either, but he has said it would be ready next week. The Senate GOP's spokesman said it's possible that's when the chamber will act on it.

If Corbett is being tight-lipped about what a bill must have to get his signature, he's being downright coy about whether he would hold up signing a budget until lawmakers deliver him a liquor privatization bill.

"I always keep — I always have — the first two weeks of July open on my calendar," he said.