In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would amend the Liquor Code to allow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board more flexibility in its operation to better serve the Commonwealth’s consumers. My bill would incorporate many common sense initiatives that will maximize the profitability of the PLCB while adding the convenience that Pennsylvania’s consumers are requesting.
Wine and Spirits Stores:
- Flexible Pricing – allow the PLCB the ability to increase revenue and profitability, while being able to offer better deals to consumers on other products. Granting the PLCB discretion in its pricing could increase profitability by $50-$70 million per year.
- Improve Store Operation
- Increase Sunday operating hours from the current 12.00pm – 5.00pm to 9.00am – 9.00pm and allow the PLCB to open as many Wine & Spirits Stores as they deem necessary (based on profitability and consumer convenience) on Sundays.
- Encourage those additional stores to be within or near grocery stores.
- Sell lottery tickets within Wine & Spirits Stores.
Package/Beer Reform: allow beer distributors to sell quantities of beer in a six pack (42oz.) on up provided that the package is produced by the manufacturer. Additionally, this bill will allow restaurants and taverns to sell more beer per transaction than they are currently able to sell.
- Direct Shipment of Wine to Consumers - allow the direct shipment of wine to a resident’s home by any licensed wine producer. The wine sold by direct shippers would be subject to both the 6% sales tax and the 18% liquor tax.
- Procurement of Stores- currently the PLCB must go through the time consuming procurement process, which causes the agency to lose out on important market opportunities. The bill will permit the PLCB to have a limited number of opportunities such as entering leases to bypass the procurement process and act on the Board’s discretion. The Department of General services will review the procurement process and purchases by the PLCB.
- Increasing Compliance- fines for Liquor Code violations have not increased since they were first imposed in 1965 and the $1,000 maximum fine has little deterrent value. Fines would be increased to a range of $2,000 to $10,000 for a first offense to improve compliance, while leaving Administrative Law Judges discretion to impose the lower fine.
- Licensee Surcharge – The current annual license fee of $700 has not been raised in 25 years. Adding a surcharge of $700 annually will help defray growing regulatory costs while keeping the fee in line with neighboring states.
- Auction of Expiring Licenses – The number of active licenses has declined over the last decade. Licenses are lost due to unpaid tax liabilities, revocation or non-renewal by the Board or because of lack of use by licensees or a licensee’s estate.These licenses cease to exist and unless action is taken, the total number of licenses will continue to decline.The bill will allow these expired licenses to revert back to the PLCB for auction, keeping the licenses available to potential licensees.
As we continue to debate the future of the PLCB, it is important that we also look at changes we can make TODAY that will generate an immediate and positive impact on our Commonwealth and its consumers. Thank you.