Democrats blast Senate GOP's wine and beer plan

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Democrats are blasting a day-old plan being circulated by Republican senators to liberalize Pennsylvania's sale of alcoholic beverages.

Lobbyists for retail chains, transporters and distillers were in the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday in hopes of influencing any eventual vote.

Democratic Sen. Jim Ferlo of Allegheny County says the plan would sap $50 million from the state treasury at a time the state government's finances are facing a $1 billion-plus deficit.

No vote is scheduled.

The Senate Republican plan would be a significant change from a bill that won House approval last year.

The proposed legislation wouldn't shut down the state-controlled wine and liquor system, as Governor Tom Corbett has sought.

Instead, it would keep state control over the wholesale and retail system, which would continue to be the only retailer of hard liquor.

It also wouldn't issue new retail liquor licenses, as Corbett had sought. Rather, existing licensees like bars, restaurants and retail beer distributors would be able to sell bottles of wine, as well as beer.

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