Gov. Wolf signs historic liquor reform bill

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Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed today an historic liquor reform bill. The bill allows beer and wine sales in licensed Pennsylvania grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.

Pennsylvania House lawmakers overwhelming voted Tuesday, June 7 in favor of HB 1690 with a vote of 157-31. Customers could buy up to four bottles of wine from licensed grocery stores, restaurants and hotels for take-out, as well as purchase six-packs of beer. It's been projected that passage of the bill will bring in as much as $150 million in added revenue.

Following Wolf's signing of the bill, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board pledged its cooperative commitment to successful implementation of new liquor laws, which they wrote in a statement, allow for greater consumer convenience for Pennsylvanians.

"Enactment of this law – which includes initiatives the PLCB has long supported, including flexibility in pricing, extended store hours, expanded Sunday sales, enhanced direct shipping options, loyalty programs, additional couponing opportunities and Pennsylvania Lottery sales at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores – heralds an exciting new beginning for the PLCB and Pennsylvania consumers of wine, spirits and beer," said Board Chairman Tim Holden.

The PLCB will move as quickly as possible in establishing new licensing applications and processes for direct wine shipping, casino licenses and wine permits for hotel and restaurant licensees. The agency will also immediately begin considering which stores will feature Lottery sales and, or have expanded Sunday sales hours as soon as the law becomes effective in August.

Other new authorizations the law provides the PLCB, including additional pricing and marketing flexibility, will likely be longer-term considerations.

"We commit to cooperation and open communication with the administration, the legislature, licensees, wine and spirits vendors, beer distributors, our retail customers and other stakeholders as we begin transforming Pennsylvania's beverage alcohol landscape in coming weeks and months," said Holden.

Despite lawmakers voting in favor of the bill, and support from the PLCB, the United Food and Commercial Workers union refuses to support the governor's efforts. According to UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young IV, "This legislation would worsen the state’s current fiscal crisis and destroy a valuable revenue-producing asset. Wine privatization would only further increase our structural budget deficit, leaving taxpayers to hold the bag for years to come."

Both Republican and Democrat party leaders Tuesday praised the passage of HB1690.