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The state Senate will hold its first hearings today on the privatization of the state’s liquor stores.  The state House has already passed a bill to privatize the liquor system but top Senate officials say the bill faces an uncertain future in that chamber.  State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who represents Jefferson County, says he’s hopeful the Senate can enact the state budget and pass a liquor bill, along with a transportation funding bill before the end of June. 


He is not speculating on the possibility of trading the Senate’s passage of a liquor bill for House passage of a transportation funding bill.  Today’s hearing is before the Senate Law and Justice Committee.  They’ll hear from critics of certain aspects of privatization:  Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and Alcohol Service Providers of Pennsylvania. 


Two more hearings on the matter are scheduled.  House officials say they’re expecting the Senate to change their bill.  Scarnati says the main opposition to the House bill comes from beer distributors, who would get the first opportunity at 1,200 liquor licenses to sell beer and wine.  Pennsylvania and Utah are the only states whose governments control wholesale and retail sales of liquor and wine. 

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