House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said he expects the House to vote this month on privatizing Pennsylvania's wine and spirits stores.
Turzai told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that he plans on formally introducing legislation for Gov. Corbett's liquor privatization plan by the end of the day today, and that he expects the House to vote on it by the end of the March.
"People recognize that it's time for change," said Turzai, the legislature's most vocal proponent of selling Pennsylvania's wine and spirits stores. "And there is significant support for moving Pennsylvania forward."
Corbett's plan would auction off Pennsylvania's 600-plus stores, and then use the estimated $1 billion in proceeds to help public schools. The way the Republican governor envisions it, beer and wine could be sold by taverns, restaurants, beer retailers, supermarkets, convenience stores and even big box stores.
The plan faces an uphill battle in the legislature, which for years has been loathe to make even the most minor changes to the liquor model that has been in place since the end of Prohibition.
Earlier this week, for instance, the Republican chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, Rep. John Taylor of Philadelphia, distributed a proposed amendment to the governor's plan that would allow state stores to remain open, while scaling back the number of liquor licenses allotted to grocery stores.
Beyond Taylor's concerns about full-scale privatization, liquor privatization has historically been challenged by the union representing state store clerks, Democratic legislators who support the union, as well as Republican legislators who advocate for strict state control over alcohol sales.
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