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Senate Republicans Search for Passable Alcohol Plan

The fizz hasn’t settled among state Senate Republicans over changes to a plan to expand the sale of beer, wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.

There are rumors — there are even bullet points of what Senate Republicans might change about an alcohol sales overhaul plan. Nothing’s solid.

“It’s an amendment with a lot of moving parts,” said Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, after an hours-long caucus Thursday. “We need to make sure the members are comfortable with the language of the amendment. They’re comfortable with the concepts, but the implementation of the concepts remains to be seen.”

Whether the bill goes to the governor’s desk will come down to a decision on the part of Republicans on the other side of the Capitol Rotunda, in the House — lawmakers who have strong views about how to privatize the state liquor system and have seen the proposal they passed in March be drastically altered since it entered the Senate.

But Pileggi said Thursday the House isn’t a concern right now.

“We’re just focusing on what can get the 26 members of the Senate,” he said. “Hopefully more than 26, but that’s the threshold.”

All 23 Senate Democrats have vowed not to support the measure, which means the bill needs all but one Republican in the chamber to pass.

The proposal under discussion now would expand the sale of wine, liquor and beer, and would allow for the closing of state wine and spirits stores as private competition increases.

GOP senators and staff expect to offer an amendment to the bill Friday on the floor. But they also say they could put off such a move until the weekend – the Senate’s changes could even come Sunday and still go to the governor’s desk before midnight if the House suspends rules.