Pennsylvania liquor privatization bill passes House committee

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The long fight to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania took another step forward Wednesday and could appear on a statewide ballot.

The Republican-led Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee approved House Bill 2272, which would create an amendment to the State Constitution banning the commonwealth from manufacturing or selling liquor.

Should the bill pass the Republican-controlled legislature it would go to the voters, not the Governor’s desk, in the form of a ballot referendum. The bill would not appear on a statewide ballot until at least three months after being passed by the General Assembly.

If approved by commonwealth residents, the constitutional amendment would become effective 18 months after a vote.

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In a letter to the committee, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association said the bill is “dangerous for taverns, bars, and licensed restaurants” without knowing if their industries would be protected from unintended consequences.

The association says the bill does not address outdated rules in the state’s liquor system and that they can not take a position at this time.

“As the statewide political voice of family-owned establishments which provide tens of thousands of jobs while supporting local economies and communities, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association agrees – in concept – that change is needed. We also realize there are many other problems within the state’s liquor system including antiquated liquor codes that need to be updated for the 21st Century.”  

Chuck Moran 
Executive Director
Pennsylvania LIcensed Beverage and Tavern Association

The association added that they would be happy to recommend changes so that small businesses don’t become collateral damage.

Committee member Rep. Matt Dowling (R-Fayette) did not vote on the bill hours after announcing he entered professional treatment to address “any possible alcohol issues” following a weekend crash. State Police say the crash is being investigated as a potential DUI case.

The bill passed the committee on a party-line vote 14-10 with Dowling as a “no vote.”

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