Proposed Liquor Law Changes in Pennsylvania May Hurt Some Businesses

Earlier this year Pennsylvania legislators suggested doing away with the Liquor Control Board and auctioning off a limited number of new liquor licenses. Privatization of the liquor law system in the state would provide state residents more convenient choices for liquor purchases. However, proposed law changes could negatively impact a significant number of business owners.

Currently, liquor stores in Pennsylvania are controlled by the state. Grocery stores and beer distributors are only able to sell beer but want to sell wine and spirits as well. The proposed legislative changes would allow both types of businesses to do so, with possible limitations.

One proposal allows those businesses who wish to obtain expanded rights to sell wine and spirits to bid for the new licenses. Smaller beer distributors are concerned that large grocery stores will outbid them. Another proposal allows beer distributors to be able to obtain the expanded liquor licenses before the grocery stores. Since a new license prohibits a second license within a quarter mile of the first, the grocery stores may not obtain their own licenses.

Businesses on both sides of the issue argue that the legislative proposals are flawed and need further revision. Lawmakers debated the issue earlier this year but then tabled it for the new session that started late last month. Pennsylvania business owners are watching closely to see how law changes will affect liquor sales in the future.

Source: Sun Gazette, "Stores willing to offer more choices, but rules may dictate options," September 16, 2012.

Our law firm represents businesses in Pennsylvania with liquor licensing issues as well as other areas of business law.

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