Republican leaders in the state House have pledged to try again to privatize liquor stores in the fall, but that's not stopping one GOP lawmaker from trying to squeeze a little wine license reform out of the state.
The pitch from Republican state Representative Dan Moul is simple: make it easier to buy wine in restaurants. The Adams County lawmaker wants to offer wine-only licenses at lower cost than restaurants would be able to pay for full liquor licenses, without capping them the way full liquor licenses are capped now, so restaurants wouldn't have to outbid each other to seize on one that's up for sale.
"I don't want any limitation on the number of licenses," said Moul. "I think that's a horrible law to have in effect, or a horrible regulation, because what that does is, it now puts these things in a bidding war."
This is the second time Moul has introduced this proposal, and he's fully expecting more negotiations ahead. He said tavern and restaurant owners are concerned a proliferation of wine-only licenses will devalue their own full liquor licenses, and introduce more competition for customers.
The House Republican leaders have said they want full privatization of state liquor stores, and not "piecemeal" legislation like the wine-only license proposal intended to make the state's liquor laws more consumer-friendly.
Moul said it's a losing strategy. "We're missing the boat," he said. "It's like trying to eat the whole apple in one bite."