GREENVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – For 15 years, Eric Steffey has owned Viking Beverage in downtown Greenville.
His company supplies beer to 40 clients in the area, but now Steffey is concerned that the proposed legislation will hurt his business.
The House voted 110 to 86 on Thursday for a bill that would close all 600 state liquor stores and create 1,200 permits to sell wine and liquor. Beer distributors would get the first opportunity to buy the permits, and the remainder would be auctioned off.
The wholesale system would also be leased to a state-licensed importer for a decade, under the legislation.
Steffey said he believes the bill would be bad for business, because he says it will over saturate the market.
“Basically, it’s a game changer,” he said. “They want to change the rules. We’ve been following the rules for the last 80 years.”
After the bill’s passage, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, the bill’s sponsor, sent out a statement reading, “Once again, House Republicans led the charge to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”
He added that the bill would “responsibly and completely divest the state from both the wholesale and retail sale of wine and spirits and remove government from an archaic system that burdens taxpayers.”
Steffey has shown his disapproval for the bill in Harrisburg. He said, if this bill is passed into law, it could lead to the closure of a lot of local companies across the state.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I mean, we’re fighting for our livelihoods. You know, hopefully they’re listening.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a similar bill earlier this year. Some form of liquor privatization could pass the Legislature, though, as part of a deal to resolve the state’s budget stalemate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.