Pennsylvania: ‘Historic’ liquor compromise, which would allow wine in grocery stores, on track to reach Gov. Wolf’s desk
Source: Penn Live
June 07, 2016
House Republicans coalesced behind a liquor modernization bill Tuesday that would allow, among other things, for grocery stores to sell wine to consumers.
Tuesday’s development, which began with a vote in the House Rules Committee, marks a substantial push toward reforming the state-run liquor system. The schism between modernization and outright privatization was one of the key issues at the heart of last year’s protracted budget impasse.
“We think this puts wine into the private sector, like consumers have been looking for for years,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County. “There are certainly other components that will help modernize the system, but overall we view this as the first step to fully privatizing our liquor system in Pennsylvania . . . it’s the most significant step in 80 years.”
Reed said the measure, which is expected to bring in an additional $150 million in revenue, will be voted on the House floor Tuesday on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.
House Speaker Mike Turzai, a vehement proponent of fully privatizing the state system, also supported Tuesday’s compromise measure.
“It’s a historic opportunity today,” said the Allegheny County Republican, “and I think the governor will sign it. I’ve been very pleased with the discussions we’ve had with the governor on many fronts.”
Many Democrats also got behind the compromise, with House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny County, saying it would avert the sale of the state stores.
“I believe right now we’ve modernized while preserving 4,000 (or) 5,000 jobs in the commonwealth,” he said, “and giving customers the convenience they want.”
Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Philadelphia, was one of the few dissenting votes in the Rules Committee on Tuesday because she believed it would result in three or four stores selling alcohol on some blocks of her city.
Key components of the bill include:
No restrictions on hours, state-mandated holidays or Sunday operation of state liquor stores
Opening up loyalty programs and coupons at state stores
Flexible pricing to allow state stores to offer special discounts and sales
Restaurants and hotels with licenses can sell up to four bottles of wine for take-out.
Grocery stores that currently sell beer, such as Wegman’s, may also sell up to four bottles of wine.
Casinos can sell beer, liquor and wine 24/7. Liquor can be consumed off the gaming floor.
Casinos can provide beer, liquor and wine free of charge at invitation-only events
Direct shipment of up to 36 cases of wine from producers in or outside of Pennsylvania per year per customer.
Governor Tom Wolf Statement on Passage of Liquor Reform Bill
June 07, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf made the follow statement regarding the passage of a liquor reform bill.
“Today the House concurred with the Senate on historic liquor modernization legislation that provides greater customer convenience to the people of Pennsylvania. As I have always said, my goal is to modernize the sale of liquor and beer in Pennsylvania to ensure convenience and satisfaction for customers. Once the bill reaches my desk, I will conduct a final review of the legislation to ensure it meets my goals of enhancing the customer experience, increasing much-needed revenue to help balance our budget, and bringing our wine and spirits system into the 21st century.”