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PA Liquor Reform Bill Becomes Law

by Geoff Rushton

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed into law a liquor reform bill that will allow for greater convenience for consumers to purchase alcohol.

The new law marks the most sweeping changes since Prohibition in how liquor is sold in the Commonwealth.

“This is truly a historic day for Pennsylvania and the most significant step the commonwealth has taken to reform our liquor system in 80 years,” Wolf said. “I want to commend leaders and members from both parties in the House and Senate for coming together to pass this legislation, and today, I am proud to design it into law. As I have always said, my goal is to modernize the sale of liquor and beer in Pennsylvania and this reform package finally brings Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits system into the 21st century.”

Changes under the new law include:

• Grocery stores that sell beer may now sell up to four bottles of wine.
• Individuals may receive direct shipments of wine to their homes.
• Restaurants and hotels may sell up to four bottles of wine for take-out.
• State liquor store restrictions on hours, mandated holidays and Sunday sales are removed.
• Alcohol may be sold all day, every day at casinos.
• The ability for gas stations to sell six-packs is made permanent, provided they obtain a special license.
• Breweries and distilleries can participate in farmers markets.
• State liquor stores can enhance customer loyalty and coupon programs, and offer special discounts and sales.

The bill first passed the State Senate in December. The House passed the bill on Tuesday.

“Today is a good day for consumers across Pennsylvania who have overwhelmingly been seeking greater convenience in liquor sales,” said Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) upon passage by the House on Tuesday. “It’s time for PA to move away from its current antiquated system and embrace a more consumer driven model.”

Rep. Mike Hanna (D-76), whose district includes parts of Centre County, voted in favor of the bill as well.

“My colleagues and I have always pushed for consumer convenience, longer hours and direct shipment of wine,” Hanna said. “This measure could not have happened without members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers working together in a bipartisan manner.”

Among other local legislators, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-171) and Rep. Rich Irvin (R-81) voted in favor, and Rep. Scott Conklin (D -77) voted against the bill, which is an amendment to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code.

Members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said they would work cooperatively to implement the new law. Board Chariman Tim Holden said the bill includes initiatives the PLCB has long supported.

“We are excited to tackle the monumental challenge ahead of us, and we pledge to do so diligently and cooperatively, communicating openly all along the way with those impacted by and interested in these changes,” added Board Member Michael Newsome. “Understandably, however, a 100-plus-page bill overhauling decades-old practices includes inherent complexities that must be approached deliberatively.”

The law will take effect in 60 days.

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