A bill to privatize liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania passes in the House with a vote of 114-87.
For more than 5 hours, State Representatives battled over House Bill 466. Republicans say it's a solution to an outdated state-run system. Democrats say privatization means uncertainty in the Commonwealth.
Republican Representative, Seth Grove, of York County, says, "People are demanding change and that's what we're trying to bring. Open up an old system and bring more selection and convenience to Pennsylvania."
The Republican-backed proposal would close most of the 600 state stores and sell about 1200 licenses for retail sales of wine and liquor.
Grove says, "Giving beer distributors more ability to sell a variety of different items, with restaurants, a better selection and what people are expecting."
But Democrats argue it would provide $160 million in revenue in the short-term for the upcoming budget and not close a projected $2 billion budget deficit.
Democratic Representative, Kevin Schreiber, of York County says, "We have a big hole to fill. This doesn't do it. This would only exacerbate the deficit by giving away one of the State's greatest assets that has a predictable return in revenue."
Opponents say House Bill 466 promotes alcohol abuse.
Schreiber says, "Right now, the State government, it's in their best interest and public health to ensure while there is the sale of alcohol, there are programs in place and the State supports those programs."
Democrats also say the move will mean a cut in jobs. But Republicans say liquor control board employees who aren't hired by private sectors will be able to apply an up to $2,000 grant to go back to school.
The bill moves to the State Senate for consideration.