Brief Summary of Liquor Freedom Bill

Liquor LibertyToday, Rep. Mike Turzai, along with a number of House Republicans, unveiled legislation to end the government monopoly on wine and liquor sales, and provide adult consumers liberty to buy liquor at local licensed private retailers.

The bill number will be HB 11. Here are some details:

Retail Licenses

  • 1,250 retail licenses will be auctioned off to the highest bidders. This roughly doubles the number of wine and liquor outlets.
    • 750 “Class A” licenses for stores with 15,000 or more square feet of retail space (no space requirement for Philadelphia stores). These would be awarded with a set number in each “retail zone” across Pennsylvania.
    • 500 “Class B” licenses for smaller stores. These would be awarded with a set number in each county.
  • To prevent a government monopoly being replaced with a private monopoly, the number of licenses any one company or individual may hold are limited to:
    • 40 total retail licenses.
    • Five class B licenses.
    • 10 percent of licenses within any county (or one license within a county with less than 10 total licenses).
  • Retail stores must sell alcohol in a “controlled area.”
    • They may sell “related merchandise” in the controlled area, but no more than 30 percent of the store’s total sales can be in the controlled area.
    • No one under 18 may work in the controlled area, and no one under 21 may sell liquor.
    • Liquor may be sold Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from Noon to 9 p.m. for an additional fee.
  • Retail licenses would be awarded within one year of the bill passing.
  • Licenses would be renewed every two years.

Wholesale Licenses

  • The Department of General Services will negotiate wholesale licenses and evaluate applicants for the distribution of current products sold in Pennsylvania.
    • Wholesale includes the distribution of wine and liquor to retail stores, as well as to restaurants, hotels, bars and taverns.
  • Wholesalers wishing to distribute products not currently sold in Pennsylvania can apply for a wholesale license.
  • Licenses would be renewed every two years.
  • Wholesale licenses would be awarded within six months of the bill passing.

State Store Inventory

  • All current state store inventory including liquor products and equipment would be sold off by the Department of General Services.

Tax Changes

  • The 18 percent Johnstown Flood Tax and the state store “markup” (an implicit tax on consumers) would be eliminated, as would the per-bottle “handling fee.”
  • Current taxes would be replaced with a a “Gallonage Tax.”
    • For most wines: $8.25 to $8.75 per gallon, based on alcohol content.
    • For sparkling wines: $9 per gallon.
    • For liquor: $11 to $12 per gallon, based on alcohol content.
    • Rates would be adjusted for inflation after five years.

Assistance for Current PLCB Employees

  • Current PLCB employees would benefit from 1) tax credits for employers who hire PLCB employees; 2) tuition assistance; and 3) preferences for other state jobs.

Here is a summary from Rep. Turzai’s office and the full text of the proposed bill.