Senate passes wine privatization bill; fate unsure in House

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania Senate is advancing legislation supported by Gov. Tom Wolf to break state government control over wine sales.

Thursday’s 29-21 vote was part of a broader effort by the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic governor to end a 5-month-budget stalemate.

It’s fate is uncertain in the House, where majority Republicans favor a stronger privatization measure and demanded that the issue be a companion to a bipartisan budget deal.

Under the bill, some 14,000 holders of take-out beer licenses could sell up to four bottles of wine. Beer distributorships aren’t included and selling hard liquor would remain the sole territory of the approximately 600 state-owned stores.

Republican backers say the bill also would improve state-owned stores. Critics say it’ll create problem liquor stores and put state stores out of business.

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