By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Voting along party lines, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee today advanced a bill that would end the state store system in the commonwealth.

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A spokesman for Governor Corbett says he’s pleased, even though the committee made significant changes to his proposal.

Instead of a specified time period, says the committee chairman, Rep. John Taylor (R-Phila.), state liquor stores would close on a schedule triggered by the number of private stores selling wine and spirits that open in each county.

“It could take three or four years depending on how fast they get up and running,” he said today.

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Taylor says beer distributors would have first crack at the 1,200 licenses to sell wine and/or spirits.  He also says the committee’s bill provides far fewer opportunities for box stores and convenience stores to get in the game than the governor’s proposal allowed.

Grocery stores would be allowed to sell wine. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Paul Costa of Allegheny County, complained bitterly that the legislation is being rammed through.

“This issue has been out there for years (but) these specific details have not been,” he said.

The bill could come up on the House floor later this week.

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