Pennsylvania: Direct-to-door wine shipment bill passes Pa. Senate; House concurrence still needed

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Pennsylvania: Direct-to-door wine shipment bill passes Pa. Senate; House concurrence still needed


A bill authorizing mail-order wine purchases in Pennsylvania cleared the state Senate today, and is headed back to the state House.


Source: Penn Live

Charles Thompson

June 24, 2015


The state Senate voted 31-18 on a mostly party line vote Wednesday to pass a bill designed to let Pennsylvanians receive direct-to-the-door wine shipments.


The bill now goes back to the state House for final consideration, though its future after that is murky.


Senate Democrats opposed the bill, arguing its annual purchase limits may be too high, and it would be better for the state to amend its wine shipment laws in the context of a fuller discussion of liquor reforms.


And Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, is known to have concerns about proposed $1-per-gallon excise tax rates on the mail-order purchases that he believes are too low.


Supporters see direct shipment as a consumer convenience issue: They want to make it easier for people who find wines they like during a trip – and that may not be stocked in the state-owned liquor stores – to get a case or two shipped home.


Senate Law and Justice Chairman Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks County, has also said Pennsylvania needs to fix its existing system – which was struck down by a court ruling several years ago over unequal treatment of in-state and out-of-state wineries – regardless of whether state-owned liquor stores are privatized or not.


As drafted, consumers could purchase up to 36 cases per year from any individual winery, which McIlhinney contends is a liberal enough cap to cover all forms of personal use, but low enough to bar people from using the provision to become black-market wholesalers.


Participating wineries would be required to:


* Verify the age of the buyer in a manner approved by the PLCB.


* Collect and remit the applicable taxes to the state.


* Clearly label the shipped packages as containing alcohol, and have it signed for on-site by someone who is 21 or over.


Senate fiscal notes project the changes in the shipment rules would generate about $1.3 million in new taxes for the state.


But the report also notes that would likely be outweighed by a companion change reducing statutory price mark-ups for special product orders placed by bars and restaurants that would cut profits for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.