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Pennsylvania Privatization Drive Stuck In Neutral

June 21, 2012

Pennsylvania’s top advocate for privatizing the state’s retail spirits and wine sales is backing off the fight until at least this fall. Pennsylvania House majority leader Mike Turzai said his privatization proposal doesn’t currently have the votes to pass the House, and that the effort will be shelved for now. After a few hours of discussion on the floor of the House last week, Turzai’s most recent privatization bill looked likely to fail when Speaker Sam Smith suspended debate. Turzai will now work with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (who supports the effort) on an amended bill that could command majorities in both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature before the end of the two-year session on November 30.

The privatization proposal has already had several different incarnations. The most recent version sweetened the deal for beer distributors in Pennsylvania—some of whom had opposed an earlier version—by offering them first right of refusal on 1,600 retail wine and spirits licenses to be auctioned, as the state’s 620-store retail monopoly on wine and spirits was dissolved. The plan also sought to allow beer distributors to sell beer in 6-packs and 18-packs versus current rules under which they may sell only cases and kegs.

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