Last week’s Pennsylvania House vote to end decades of strict government control over the sale of alcohol was certainly historic.
It’s the first time such a measure has cleared a chamber, despite efforts dating back at least to Gov. Dick Thornburgh’s administration.
But it’s a little early to be making toasts.
State Senators are decidedly less excited about shuttering the state stores than their counterparts in the House.
Amid the representatives’ back-slaps and fists-pumps, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s reaction to the House vote Thursday was like a splash of cold water.
“It’s not something that’s been an item of active interest and discussion in the Senate,” he said.
However, Pileggi said the Senate could hold hearings on the House bill in a month or two, and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said he expects Senate action sometime before the end of the year.
Not exactly the fast track, but at least the Senate is willing to take up the bill — even if the two leaders appeared to be lowering expectations for its passage.
We hope it gets a fair chance.
Poll after poll shows large majorities of Pennsylvanians favor privatizing the state liquor stores. Yet year after year, we’ve seen the will of the people thwarted in Harrisburg.
It doesn’t make sense.
For most people this is a simple issue: Pennsylvania has no business being in the booze business, putting itself in the contradictory position of enforcing the state’s alcohol laws while at the same time pushing alcohol sales.
It’s also about the inconvenience this bizarre system causes by telling law-abiding adults where, when and how much alcohol they can purchase.
As we’ve noted before, even the Bible Belt and Deep South states decades ago abandoned the strict control of alcohol sales that Pennsylvania now shares only with ultra-conservative Utah.
We’re cautiously optimistic the Keystone State is on the verge of change.
The York Dispatch