- The options in Pennsylvania for people to buy wine and beer from private retailers would expand and the state-controlled liquor stores would remain open under a bill approved yesterday by a state House panel.
But the bill represents a radical departure from the objectives of the House Republican floor leader and of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to close the state stores and auction wine- and liquor-sales licenses to private operators.
Prospects for the bill are not clear in the full House, and a raft of proposed amendments was expected to emerge on a topic that has proven to be complicated for the Legislature.
Liquor Control Committee Chairman John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, defended the bill as a better transition to a private market than Corbett's idea, because it would allow good stores to thrive without costing the jobs of state-store employees.
"On paper, this looks to be 'privatization-lite,' " Taylor said. "If you play it out, it's much more significant in terms of what will happen after this is passed. . . . I think you'll have a hybrid approach in terms of the retail market, as well.
"You'll have a Total Wine [store] in Pennsylvania; you'll have mom-and-pop operations; you'll have supermarkets with this ability to do it, and I think that's significant enough without doing damage," he said.
Total Wine is a huge discount hard liquor, wine and beer establishment in Claymont, Del., and in Cherry Hill.