HARRISBURG - When it comes to selling alcohol in Pennsylvania, this much is clear: No one agrees on how best to do it.
That lack of consensus was on display Tuesday in the second of three hearings before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which is considering a hotly contested bill to privatize liquor sales.
Witnesses represented sellers - beer distributors, supermarkets, hotels, bars, restaurants. Each wants something different from privatization, or "modernization," as some call it.
And from the questions asked, some senators are still struggling with how to change the system without jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who run their businesses according to current laws.
Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R., Bucks), the committee chairman, reiterated his goal of drafting a plan after a final June hearing and sending it to colleagues for a floor vote. "We are gathering this information so I can craft a privatization proposal," he said, answering recent suggestions that he aims to torpedo the bill championed by Gov. Corbett and the House GOP.
For years, the issue of who can sell beer has ferociously balkanized retailers. Consumers can buy cases or kegs from distributors, but no more than two six-packs, usually at a steep markup, at bars. Recently some supermarkets have obtained restaurant licenses to sell up to two six-packs to go as well.
Supermarket executives testified that they would like to expand alcohol sales - though they didn't agree on what would work best.