Thursday, March 21, 2013

A 'shot' at history today in Pa. House

Somebody pinch me. I can't believe I'm reading this. Unless my eyes deceive me, the Pa. House today will vote on a bill that will get Pennsylvania out of the booze business.

Eventually.

So it's not exactly what I wanted. It won't blow up the state stores, at least not right away. But it's a move in the right direction. And it's one I never expected to see.

The amended version of the plan promoted by Gov. Tom Corbett will mean a more gradual withdrawal for the state stores. If you love Total Wine, you'll have to wait even longer, unless of course you do what most people around here do, simply drive over the line to Claymont and shop there.

Beer distributors will get first shot at the 1,200 licenses that will be sold to compete with state stores. Only after a year will other big box stores get their shot.

And I get the feeling I'm still not going to be able to do what I want - which is simply walk down a couple aisles while I am getting grocreries and snag a six-pack or case of beer, as well as a glass of wine or a bottle of vodka. I think I'm still going to have to go through the silly process of visiting a separate part of the store and use a separate checkout line. There's nothing convenient about it.

But this proposal would allow me to buy both beer and wine, and maybe even liquor, at my local beer distributor, and I guess you have to take  your progress where you find it.

We used our editorial page once again today to back the idea of privatization.

It will be interesting to see how our Delco state reps vote, and whether Tom Corbett and Republicans, who control the Legislature, can marshal the votes to get this through. I was surprised yesterday when Democrats dropped a lengthy list of amendments, clearing the way for a vote today.

Even if it passes the House, it's not a sure "shot." It then goes to the Senate, where support for the move is a bit more shaky. But again, it will be a test for Corbett, who is facing a tough re-election fight and badly needs some kind of win. He will have to use some political muscle to get this thing through the Senate.

It could be a historic day in Pennsylvania. Don't raise those champagne glasses just yet, but we're getting closer.

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