Just two days after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 157-31 on a bill allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores, Governor Tom Wolf (D) signed the bill into law on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016.
As Wolf signed House Bill 1690 into law, he remarked, “This bill, as all of us know, is truly historic.”
The law will go into effect in 60 days and it allows wine to be sold at grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels that serve prepared food. Wine and six packs of beer to go will be allowed to be sold at establishments that sell gasoline and prepared food, but alcohol must be sold in a different location than gas is sold. Grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations must already have a liquor license in order to sell alcohol. Restaurants and hotels that have liquor licenses must pay a $2,000 permit fee which will allow them to sell up to four bottles of take-out wine. They also have to buy the wine from Pennsylvania with a 10% discount, and the wine cannot be sold at a lower price. Moreover, restaurants and hotels have to pay a 2% renewal fee on wine sales.
Wolf also said the following, “This bill will improve the customer experience, this bill will make pricing more competitive, it will make the purchase of these products more convenient and it will produce more revenue for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania… It will also show, once again, that Democrats and Republicans can work together.”
Casinos will also be allowed to sell beer and liquor during all hours of operation. Casinos that opt to sell alcohol must pay a $1 million application fee that has to be renewed every four years. Furthermore, Pennsylvania residents will be permitted to purchase out-of-state wine and have it shipped to their doorsteps. The 18% liquor tax on wine, also known as the Johnstown Flood Tax, is now a $2.50 “gallonage” tax. A wine auction permit will be allowed for nonprofit, college, and university fundraisers.
In addition, state-run liquor store hours will be expanded to include later hours and Sundays. Additionally, Pennsylvania lottery tickets will be sold at state stores. The Liquor Control Board (LCB) will auction as many as 50 dormant liquor licences in each county. The LCB has to reduce the mark-up on specialty orders to 10%. The LCB is also permitted to establish new pricing schemes for customers. Wolf and the Legislature will put a commission together in order to study the state’s role in the liquor industry.
Speaker of the PA House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R- Allegheny) was the bill’s prime sponsor. Turzai issued a statement after Wolf signed the law. His full statement may be read below:
“This historic legislation is a tremendous leap toward bringing Pennsylvania into the 21st century,” said Turzai, the prime sponsor of the legislation. “This privatization bill will bring consumers the added choice and convenience they have been asking for since Prohibition.”
“I am confident this law is the first incremental step into a future for which Pennsylvanians have waited far too long,” said Turzai.