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Pa. Senate Takes Up Liquor Store Privatization Issue

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(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – More than a month after a bill to privatize liquor sales passed the House, the state Senate begins consideration of the measure with a hearing this morning.

The man on the hot seat today is Bucks County Republican Senator Chuck McIlhinney, chairman of the Senate committee that will vet the House Liquor bill. McIlhinney has already been targeted with TV ads by a conservative group that wants him to take a hard line on privatization.

But, McIlhinney is vowing to hear out all proposals and says he will not be pressured into rubber stamping the House bill.

“That’s how they do it in Washington, maybe. But the corporate interests can hold sway in Washington, but I’m going to hold these hearings, and we’re going to explore what it is the people of Pennsylvania want to see in a privatization effort, and then we’re going to put something forth that I can get 26 votes for.”

McIlhinney also insists he does not intend to stand in the way of liquor privatization.

“I’m a roadblock to selling out to large, national corporate interests, and I’m proud to do that. But I’m not a roadblock to opening up the wine and spirits to private entities.”

Winning a majority in the 50 member Senate will likely be tougher than it was in the House, in part because Democrats who favor the state store system hold only a few fewer seats than Republicans in the Senate.

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