The sponsor of the wine-cooler bill, Sen. John Shumaker (R., Dauphin), chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, had hoped at least to get his measure through the Senate. But opposition from grocery interests, which also sought to be given the right to sell wine coolers, plus the threat from some senators to use the bill as a vehicle for various pet liquor-law items, caused the Senate to reject it.
Wine coolers are a mixture of fruit juices and wine. They are the fastest- moving part of the beverage market, in part because they have been heavily promoted by manufacturers. The State Store system grossed $9 million on the sale of 330,000 cases in the last year and the Liquor Control Board (LCB) estimated that sales this year would double.
The Pennsylvania Beer Wholesalers Association, which supported the bill, had estimated that 2.5 million cases of wine coolers could be sold annually if beer distributors were permitted to sell them.
The LCB, which has a monopoly on the sale of liquor and wine, had opposed the measure on the grounds that it would violate a longstanding policy that only State Stores can sell wine or wine products. The LCB was also concerned that it would lose revenue.
In the House, Rep. Stephen F. Freind (R., Delaware), the leading anti- abortion legislator, had said he expected a vote during the night on the certificate-of-need bill, which has already passed the Senate.
However, Tony May, spokesman for the House Democratic leadership, said the leaders hoped to restrict voting to budget items.
"The preference is not to do" the bill, said May.
"If they get a vote, we'll get our usual 60 or 70 votes and it will pass," said Morgan Plant, lobbyist for Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state.
Plant said that pro-choice groups were hoping that Gov. Thornburgh would veto the bill.
Thornburgh's press secretary, David Runkel, said Thornburgh had nothing to say on the bill at this point.
In another matter, the Senate filled a vacancy in Philadelphia Muncipal Court. The Senate voted to confirm Harvey W. Robbins, an attorney and a law clerk to Municipal Court President Judge Joseph R. Glancey, to be a municipal court judge.
Robbins, 43, was confirmed as part of a political deal in which Senate Democrats agreed to confirm a Republican nominee, Martin J. O'Brien as a Common Pleas Court judge in Butler County.