Liquor Privatization

Government & Politics
10:14 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Liquor Privatization Supporters Back for Another Round

Talk of liquor privatization all but disappeared from the legislative scene a year and a half ago, but the issue is back as state lawmakers discuss top priorities for the new session.

A plan to expand alcohol sales and phase out state wine & spirits stores passed the House nearly two years ago, only to die unceremoniously in the Senate a few months later. But the coming months hold promise for the proposal’s supporters, who say it should be part of any big policy compromise with the Senate and Governor Tom Wolf’s administration.

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Government & Politics
1:17 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Gubernatorial Campaign Leaves Liquor Privatization Behind

A once popular issue is now falling into the background, especially in the upcoming gubernatorial general election: the privatization of liquor.

Back in January of 2013, Governor Tom Corbett proposed changing Pennsylvania’s liquor laws and joining the already “48 other states,” whose sale and control of wine and spirits rests in the hands of the private market. Utah is the only other state with controls similar to Pennsylvcania's.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:27 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Email Scandal and Close of PA Legislative Session

Credit Talk Radio News Service

We'll talk with Harrisburg Patriot News Editorial Page Editor John Micek about the latest news related to the scandal involving current and former state employees trading raunchy emails. How will it impact the governor's race with three weeks left before election day? And what's on tap in the final days of the legislative session?

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2:14 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

As PA’s Largest State Liquor Store Opens, Turzai Pushes for Privatization

The largest retail state liquor store in Pennsylvania opened Thursday – but not everyone is excited.

The expanded store, located on Penn Circle South in East Liberty, is a remodeled and refurbished version of the previous Fine Wines & Good Spirits Store.

At 17,674 square feet, it’s 35 percent larger than its predecessor.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) aimed to make the store environmentally responsible by using LED lighting and offering to sell reusable shopping bags made from 60 percent recycled materials.

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Government & Politics
8:08 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Corbett: Liquor Privatization Issue Still Alive

Gov. Tom Corbett says the liquor privatization issue that has been a priority for him for more than a year is still the subject of negotiations.

Progress ground to a halt last summer on plans to dismantle the state-controlled wine and liquor system and change the rules governing all alcohol sales. But Corbett says there’s still some fizz left in the bottle.

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Government & Politics
4:04 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

It's Back: State Lawmakers Talking About Liquor Privatization Again

Republican state lawmakers are in talks to keep the issue of liquor privatization alive in the coming months.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, the most dogged legislative supporter of the push, said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley is once again leading the effort to phase out state wine and spirits stores.

He said the fact that it’s an election year will work to the advantage of supporters.

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Government & Politics
10:40 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Lawmakers Call on Corbett to Sever Any Ties Between Two Legislative Proposals

Two legislative leaders are calling on Gov. Tom Corbett to dispel the rumors once and for all that two of his top priorities from the spring are linked as some grand strategy.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa is again asking the administration to announce there is no effort to keep transportation funding hostage in order to pass a liquor privatization bill, or vice versa.

The GOP House Majority Leader agreed that it falls to Corbett to de-couple the two items.

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Liquor Privatization
3:30 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Despite Increased Income from Liquor Sales in Pennsylvania, Privatization Still a Priority

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board reported revenue near $2.2 billion for fiscal year 2012-2013, a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, contributions to various state agencies and the general fund exceeded a record-setting $660 million dollars.

Still, this news doesn’t sway Gov. Tom Corbett, who remains a proponent of privatizing the state’s liquor system.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:52 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

State Budget Passed by Deadline, No News On Most Pressing Legislation

Budget passed just before the Sunday deadline
Credit 90.5 WESA

Following a “bad weekend” with the collapse of his agenda, Governor Tom Corbett signed a nearly $29 billion state budget Sunday night.  Controversial issues including liquor privatization and allocations for transportation funding remain in the Legislature until the fall, prompting a close examination of these pressing topics and the motivations behind both parties in both the House and Senate.

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Government & Politics
7:10 am
Mon July 1, 2013

State Budget Signed On Time, But Deadline Moves for Rest of Corbett's Agenda

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed an on-time budget, but he can claim zero victories on his other top priorities: liquor privatization, transportation funding or pension overhaul.
Credit Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed an on-time budget, but without any victories on his other top three legislative priorities.

Liquor privatization, transportation funding and pension overhaul will have to wait until the fall for further legislative action.

A transportation funding plan got stuck in the House. A bid to change how alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania stalled in the Senate. Pension overhaul is a plan neither chamber is ready to advance.

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Liquor Privatization
10:18 am
Sat June 29, 2013

Alcohol Sales Overhaul Passes Senate on Party Lines

After days of negotiations, a plan to expand alcohol sales in Pennsylvania has the preliminary approval of the state Senate.

An amended proposal passed the chamber along party lines in the wee hours Saturday morning, with all 27 Republicans voting in its favor (the Senate voted to override its 11 p.m. curfew to pass the bill).

The proposal must clear another full Senate vote before it goes back to the House.

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Liquor Privatization
7:56 am
Fri June 28, 2013

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.

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Government & Politics
6:55 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Seeing Double, Senate Panel Approves Alcohol Sales Plans

A plan to expand access to wine, beer, and booze is advancing in the state Senate, though more changes are likely, and Republican support is far from certain.

The Senate's counter-offer to the House's bid to privatize the state's liquor system cleared a key committee by a close vote. Technically, the panel signed off on two bills — identical twin proposals that would allow certain retailers to sell beer, wine and liquor, and allow for the Liquor Control Board to discern when to shut down state stores due to anemic profits.

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Liquor Privatization
3:27 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Groups Voice Opposition to Liquor Privatization Plan

Groups opposed to a bill that would privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania held a rally at Mercy Hospital of UPMC Monday, saying the proposal would result in a rise in first responders’ workloads.

“As crime increases, as abuse increases, as the negative impacts of the increased availability of alcohol to youth drinking, to underage drinking, all of these things are going to be a huge responsibility for first responders in this state,” said Barney Oursler, executive director of Pittsburgh UNITED.

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Liquor Privatization
7:32 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Senate GOP Calls Its Alcohol Sales Plan A 'Starting Point'

State Senate GOP leaders have presented a counter-offer to the state House's liquor privatization plan, though they admit they don't yet have the votes to pass it out of their chamber.

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Liquor Privatization
4:58 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Details Scarce as Senate GOP Wrangles Votes on Liquor Bill

State Senate Republicans are expected to offer their own counter-proposal to the House's plan to phase out state wine and spirits stores and privatize the state's wholesale operation.

But details of the proposal are still under wraps. When asked for a status update on the bill, Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) said, with a laugh, "That's a great question."

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State Government
3:41 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

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.

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Liquor Privatization
4:46 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Senate's Last Liquor Hearing Comes with Spirited Debate

Tempers flared at the third and final state Senate hearing focused on the governor's liquor privatization proposal and related plans to change the way alcohol is bought and sold in Pennsylvania.

By the end, the committee's chairman was barely closer to nailing down the details of a proposal, saying a final plan should allow Pennsylvanians to buy alcohol in "more places," while phasing out the state wine and spirits stores, and without necessarily getting rid of the state-owned wholesale system.

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Liquor Privatization
4:14 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Lt. Gov. Calls on 'Deliberative' State Senators to Support Liquor Privatization Plan

A series of hearings on liquor privatization in Pennsylvania will soon come to an end in the state Senate.

Lawmakers next week plan to finish up a trio of gatherings spurred by the House’s passage of a plan in March to phase out the state’s wine and spirits stores.

Gov. Tom Corbett has blasted state senators for dragging their feet on the issue. But Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who helped draft the administration’s privatization plan, has said the Senate has always been “deliberative.”

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Liquor Privatization
6:31 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Second of Trio of Liquor Hearings: One Big Wish List

The chairman of a key Senate panel all but called a time of death for liquor privatization — at least, the effort to pass a measure before July.

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Liquor Privatization
6:21 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Poll Shows Public Less Keen on Liquor Privatization

Public support may be waning for a plan to sell off the state's wine and liquor stores.

It's the issue on the governor's to-do list that is furthest along in the Legislature, but a new Franklin & Marshall College poll notes support for it has dropped by six points among surveyed voters since February - from 53 percent in a February poll to 47 percent in a May poll.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Still, more respondents support privatization than oppose it.

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Liquor Privatization
10:02 am
Wed May 1, 2013

First Senate Hearing Doesn't Bode Well for Liquor Plan

Sen. Chuck McIlhinney has said he’s working to find consensus on a liquor privatization proposal, but you wouldn’t know it from his Tuesday committee hearing on the issue.

The chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee plays a central role in whether the House-approved plan to phase out state wine and spirits stores advances in the Senate. Tuesday marked the first of what he says will be three hearings on the issue.

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Liquor Privatization
4:36 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Administration Says Troopers Would Get More Money Under Liquor Plan

Law enforcement groups are asking state lawmakers to consider the impact liquor privatization would have on their efforts and adjust budgets accordingly.

The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association (PSTA) and the state’s Liquor Enforcement Association didn’t come down on either side of the liquor privatization issue. But they did chime in with their hope for more money if a plan goes to the governor’s desk that would result in a proliferation of alcohol retailers.

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Liquor Privatization
6:31 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Lawmaker: Liquor Privatization Distracting from State Budget

On the eve of a state Senate committee's first of three hearings on liquor privatization, some might say the issue of selling off the state wine and spirits stores is ripe for discussion.

Not the Senate President Pro Tem.

Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said Monday he's "a little frustrated" that the liquor privatization issue is eclipsing what he thinks should be the central focus right now: the state budget, which is due in two months' time.

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Liquor Privatization
9:39 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Pro-liquor Privatization Ad Homes in on Key Senator

A conservative group is turning up the heat on a key state Republican senator who’s voiced skepticism about the liquor privatization plan approved by the House.

A television ad launched by the conservative group Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, which doesn’t disclose its funders, paints Bucks County state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney as being against selling off the state stores.

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6:01 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Transportation Bill's Author Severs Ties with Senate Dems on Liquor

The long-awaited legislative follow-up to the governor’s own transportation funding plan is expected to be announced Tuesday.

Transportation Committee Republican Chair John Rafferty has been working on the issue for months, insisting that it won’t be a victim of what legislators refer to as linkage – trading votes on one issue for support on another.

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Liquor Privatization
5:29 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Some GOP Lawmakers Want Liquor Money for Transportation, Not Schools

A small group of state House Republicans say if a plan to sell off the state’s wine and spirits stores lands on the governor’s desk, they want money from the sales to go toward fixing roads and bridges.

The measure clashes with the Corbett administration’s own proposal to put liquor privatization revenue into a grant fund for schools.

But Republican Rep. Jerry Knowles of Berks County said he’s not trying to make waves.

"The governor has a good idea," Knowles said. "It’s just that I have a better idea. OK?"

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Liquor Privatization
6:58 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Corbett Warns Senate: Finish Liquor by July

The liquor privatization bill that passed the state House is complex.

It has been years in the making. Its bouquet contains elements of many differing retail interests.

But unlike a fine wine, Gov. Tom Corbett isn’t asking the state Senate to let it breathe or drink it in slowly.

The governor’s message here is: Get it down quickly.

At a press conference near Reading on Wednesday, he turned to the lone state senator in the room with a warning:

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Liquor Privatization
6:41 am
Fri March 22, 2013

House's Liquor Plan Due for Lukewarm Reception in Senate

State House lawmakers have finally passed a liquor privatization proposal, building on more than two years of discussions and a concerted push from the governor’s office.

The measure was shepherded through the wilds of the 203-member House, where Republicans with a variety of reservations about increasing access to alcohol and hurting beer sellers had to be won over.

Now the measure is headed to the Senate, and once again there will be challenges.

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Liquor Privatization
6:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Liquor Privatization Passes State House

A plan to privatize the sale of wine and spirits and gradually phase out state stores passed the state House Thursday evening by a vote of 105 to 90.

Under the bill, grocery stores could sell wine, beer distributors could sell wine and liquor and other private entities could buy licenses to sell wine and liquor after the first year of implementation. The plan allows for the phasing out of state wine and spirits stores as private retailers obtain licenses.

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