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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 6, 2022 12:06 PM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Revitalizing Pennsylvania’s restaurants and bars with reasonable music levels
I will soon introduce legislation to amend the Liquor Code which will encourage and permit our restaurants, bars, and hotels to use time-limited federal funds to invest in outdoor seating and entertainment to attract more patrons, generate more revenue, and therefore hire more staff and entertainers.  


Many of our restaurants, eating, and hotel establishments which hold liquor licenses depend heavily on the addition of outdoor seating to attract and accommodate more patrons safely distanced from other parties. Moreover, the responsible and considerate use of amplified music and other entertainment to their outdoor patrons can be critical in generating revenue needed to revitalize and sustain the establishments who have struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Restaurant Revitalization Fund, emergency assistance is still available for a limited time for qualifying restaurants, bars and similar businesses impacted by COVID-19. The SBA may provide funding up to $5 million per location.   

Importantly, an allowable use of these awarded funds is for the construction of outdoor seating.   


Unfortunately, there is a well-intentioned yet poorly crafted provision in our Liquor Code Section 493 (34) prohibiting a licensee from using, inside or outside of its licensed premises, amplification whereby the sound of music or other entertainment can be heard beyond the licensee’s property line. The BLCE has the ability to issue these fines under nuisance bars investigations on the basis of subjective ill-defined criteria and in the absence of accurate and reliable sound level measurements. 


Act 45 of 2019 permitted limited wineries to use an amplified sound device outdoors under certain conditions.  My legislation will grant those same privileges under the same responsible conditions to our licensed restaurants, bars, and hotels to operate outdoor seating venues with amplified sound, while still being responsive to and considerate of concerns of the surrounding community. The sound must not exceed 75 decibels measured beyond the property line. Further, this provision is limited to the hours of 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. -10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  


This provision applies to licensee holders in counties class 2A through class 8.  Municipalities still retain their authority under section 493.1(b) of the Liquor Code to petition the Board to allow their own noise ordinances to supersede the Liquor Code’s provision regarding amplified sound. 


Please join me in sponsoring this needed legislation, as time is limited in accessing the federal funds for our locally owned restaurants, bars and hotels.  

Introduced as SB1212