After months of hearings, public rhetoric and legislative wheeling & dealing, the state Senate passed an amendment to the House liquor expansion bill early this morning.
Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi says his amendment would allow beer distributors to sell wine and liquor, while also paving the way for convenience stores and gas stations, as well as supermarkets that meet certain requirements similar to existing laws regarding beer sales. The bill would also allow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to lease the wholesale end of the liquor business for up to 10 years.
Pileggi introduced the amendment after privately securing the votes needed for passage.
Debate on the amendment did not begin until well after midnight, with the amendment vote coming after 1am. The amended legislation now goes back to the Senate Appropriations Committee and is expected to come back to the Senate floor this weekend. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session throughout the weekend heading up to the state budget deadline Sunday night.
Such late-night votes had become taboo in recent years, dating back to the highly controversial 2005 legislative pay raise that outraged voters and cost several high-ranking lawmakers their offices. Several Democrats criticized the timing of the vote.
The amendment passed 27-23.