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More Support For Pa. Liquor Modernization?

By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - A key state Senator says he believes there's increased support for modernization initiatives as lawmakers continue to weigh the issue of privatizing liquor sales.

Republican John Pippy chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which vets liquor legislation. He sees no reason why lawmakers can't move ahead with modernizing liquor sales while also considering selling off state liquor stores.

"I think that some of the customer-oriented changes will have broad support – I think it's more the details that have to be worked out."

The CEO of the Liquor Control Board, Joe Conti, discussed some of those proposed changes as he testified at Senate budget hearings. One of the proposals is to allow for variable pricing of wine and spirits.

"It's hard to explain, in a way, the handcuffs we have on us when it comes to pricing."

Conti spoke of some modernization initiatives the LCB wants lawmakers to consider, including eliminating the requirement that wine and spirits be marked up a uniform 30%.

"That's very limiting and doesn't give us the flexibility – if we buy too much, we'd like to be able to put things on sale. If we see things our competitors are doing, particularly in the southeast, we'd like to be able to respond."

Other modernization proposals include expanding Sunday sales and allowing Pennsylvania residents to have direct shipping from out of state wineries.

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