Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
Building on the success of recent reforms that have opened the private marketplace to sell wine in Pennsylvania, the House approved a four-bill package last week to expand those opportunities.
The bills, which now go the Senate for further consideration, would establish licenses for retail stores to sell wine and spirits; authorize licensees with seating capacities to sell spirits in addition to wine; and allow private wine retailers and importers to have more control over the supply, delivery and pricing of wine.
The reforms are designed to gradually dismantle the archaic system of the state selling alcohol and provide more opportunities for the private sector, along with raising hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed state revenue.
I joined a majority of my colleagues in passing these reforms because for years, a vast majority of Pennsylvanians have called on state government to get out of the liquor business and make it more convenient to purchase beer, wine and spirits. While that work is far from finished, we took a big step in that direction thanks to the passage of two news laws in 2016.
Consumers may now purchase wine at licensed grocery stores, so no need to make a special trip to pick up a bottle to go with the dinner you’re preparing. Act 39 of 2016 also allows for wine-to-go sales at restaurant, and direct shipment of wine from licensed wineries to your home.
To further boost consumer convenience, the law also allows for expanded hours and flexible pricing at existing state stores.
Act 166 of 2016, makes significant reforms to beer sales in the Commonwealth. Most notably, consumers are now able to buy six-packs and refillable growlers at the state’s beer distributorships. The law also allows for the direct shipment of up to 192 ounces of beer (about the same size as a 12-pack) per month from wholesalers and retailers to consumers, such as those enrolled in Beer of the Month clubs. In addition, mixed drinks will be permitted to be consumed at stadiums in the same areas as beer.
I will continue to work toward full privatization of the state’s liquor sales, but these laws are already making a big difference for consumers and also in terms of new revenue for this year’s state budget.