The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Thursday night passed a bill to replace hundreds of state-owned liquor stores and privatize the industry by allowing licensed private businesses to sell alcohol.

After the 105-90 vote that followed seven hours of debate in Harrisburg, the measure moves to the Senate, which is expected to tweak Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal.

“Finally, a bill to bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century and provide Pennsylvanians with the convenience and choice that Americans in 48 other states enjoy is now on its way to the Senate. We still have a way to go, but I trust that the Senate will diligently work with us,” Corbett said in a statement.

Corbett, a Republican, wants fees from liquor licenses, which could total more than $1 billion, to go toward public education.

Democrats would rather modernize the existing system rather than sell it. They say the state could lose $200 million in annual revenue and 4,000 state workers’ jobs are in jeopardy.

“If you believe in privatization, this is not the bill to do it,“ said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “The more you learn about this, the uglier this bill looks.  I think that once people get to shine the light of day on this thing, they will look at it go and this is one ugly piece of legislation.  

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.