Liquor Bill Clears Hurdle Among Senate GOP
If there is any truth to Liquor Reform and Transportation being linked, then it is game on for both. At a 1:20 am during a rare late-night session, one that required the Senate to suspend its own rules to continue, Republicans garnered the votes they needed to pass an amendment to the Liquor Reform bill.
Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), the amendment contains new language on package reform for distributors, the ability for wine, beer and liquor all to be sold in one place, and for beer to be available in gas stations. There also are provisions for buffer zones around current beer distributors to keep grocers from destroying their customer base.
State retail operations in the new bill will only be closed once they are outnumbered two-to-one by private stores selling all three alcohol types. Wholesale is required to be put up for lease for ten years.
These details were enough to get all 27 members of the Senate GOP to support Pileggi’s amendment.
“We had a constant interaction with all of the members discussing the merits of the amendment and how the amendment could be improved,” Pilrggi said.
Democrats continued to to balk at any form of privatization of the state system. Prior to the Pileggi amendment Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) introduced his own “modernization amendment” which failed albeit with the support of one Republican, Senator Greenleaf (R-Montco).
The newly amended liquor bill will now go to an Appropriations Committee vote and then back to a full Senate vote before being sent to the House where in March a far more aggressive bill for privatization passed.
Two Republicans, Greenleaf and Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), didn’t agree to the plan until after 11pm Friday night. Both of them told Capitolwire their support was based their fear that the House would torpedo the transportation funding bill if the Senate flunked the liquor bill.
“They know I am not committed to vote for it on final passage. But I wanted to make sure transportation didn’t die in the House because of my vote on an amendment in the Senate,” Tomlinson told Capitolwire.
The Patriot-News reports that Senators are saying that they will wait on final passage of a liquor bill until the House passes the Transportation bill.
Both chambers will reconvene this today for further budget deliberations which are expected to go on through the weekend in advance of the June 30 budget deadline.