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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 21, 2015 11:19 AM
From: Representative Mike Turzai
To: All House members
Subject: Co-sponsorship of Legislation - Privatize the Sale of Wine and Spirits
In the near future I will be re-introducing legislation to privatize the sale of wine and spirits in the Commonwealth. The House of Representatives made history on March 21, 2013 when we passed HB 790 by a vote of 105 to 90. This was the first time in the history of Pennsylvania that either chamber has approved a bill to improve consumer access, availability and pricing of wine and spirits. I will be re-introducing an identical proposal in the coming weeks.

My legislation creates 1,200 Wine and Spirits Retail Licenses. These licenses will be available to existing beer distributors only for the first twelve months after enactment. This will enable our existing beer distributor licensees to grow their businesses; and, become more viable as a business for years to come. It will also give consumers the ability to one-stop shop for wine, spirits and beer. At the conclusion of this twelve month period, any remaining licenses will be offered to the general public at a substantially higher cost.

Twelve months after enactment of my legislation, wine and spirits wholesale divestiture will commence. Privatizing the wholesale wine and spirits business will realize approximately $500 million for the Commonwealth. In addition, it will also allow our licensees the ability to negotiate pricing on the products they buy; and, increase the variety of products available in Pennsylvania.

Other states that have privatized the sale of wine and spirits had some difficulties with availability of product because the State Stores closed before the new licensees had an opportunity to commence operations. My legislation avoids these issues by implementing a test based on the availability of wine and spirits in each county before closing the State Stores in that county. This will ensure that our constituents continue to have access to the products that want without any disruptions in service.

As the State Stores throughout the Commonwealth close, the PLCB has the opportunity to issue up to 600 additional Wine and Spirits Retail Licensees. These additional 600 licenses can be issued in any number; however, they may only be issued if it is determined that the availability of wine and spirits in a given county is lacking.

My legislation also creates a grocery store liquor license. This license will allow the holder to sell up to 12 bottles of wine in a single transaction. In order to prevent sales to minors, the licensee will be required to utilize a transaction scan device for any purchase involving a person who looks younger than 35 years of age.

Residents of the Commonwealth will finally be able to purchase beer from a beer distributor in quantities less than a case under my proposal. Beer distributors will have the ability to sell 6-packs and 12-packs of beer in addition to the cases that they currently sell. Additionally, restaurants and taverns will have the ability to sell up to four 6-packs or two 12-packs as opposed to the single 12-pack and two 6-packs they are currently allowed.

Finally, this proposal strengthens the enforcement of the Liquor Code as well. State Troopers will begin rotating through the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE) which will help prevent egregious violations such as DUI’s, drug and gun sales in licensed establishments, and sales to minors. In addition, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, ALL entities that sell alcohol will be subject to enforcement by the BLCE. Currently, our State Stores are not subject to enforcement by BLCE.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to consider so-sponsoring my legislation. In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes. It was estimated last session that this proposal would realize approximately $1 billion in upfront money with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Introduced as HB466