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Bucks, MontCo Senator's bill would expand liquor, wine, sales

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The ranking Republican in the state Senate is backing a plan to expand the sale of liquor and wine in Pennsylvania, the bill's sponsor said Tuesday, while a bill to privatize the industry remained stalled in the House.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow thousands of taverns, restaurants and other establishments licensed to sell glasses of wine and spirits to buy a special license to sell those products by the bottle as well.

The bill would leave the 620 state stores open and preserve the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which could choose to close state stores that are rendered unprofitable by competition, said Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, the bill's sponsor.

"You could see what works," the Bucks County Republican said.

The bill also would allow beer distributors to obtain a license authorizing them to sell six-packs, 18-packs or even single bottles of beer, McIlhinney said. They now may sell only cases and kegs.

In a statement issued through McIlhinney's office, Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said the legislation "represents a significant step towards enhanced consumer choice and convenience."

On Monday night, the House spent three hours debating a bill to privatize beer and liquor sales — by replacing the state-owned liquor stores with 1,600 state-licensed, privately run stores — but it took no action on the measure Tuesday.

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