A key legislative panel has endorsed a radically changed version of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's liquor-privatization bill.
The House Liquor Control Committee voted 14-10 Monday to approve an amended version that gives beer distributors the first shot at buying 1,200 liquor and wine sales licenses. After one year, the remaining licenses would be offered to other buyers.
The 600 state stores would be gradually reduced as the number of licensees in each county grows. Once the number of state stores falls below 100, they all would close.
The amendment, approved on a party-line vote, also would create a wine and beer license for grocery stores.
Minority Democrats pressed unsuccessfully for additional hearings before any committee vote. Corbett's spokesman praised the vote and called the amended bill a good compromise.