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By now you are aware that Pennsylvania has enacted new amendments to the Liquor Code when Governor Wolf signed Act 39 of 2016 into law on June 8, 2016. The law takes effect 60 days from that date.

One aim of the law is to change the manner in the way the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its licensees sell alcoholic beverages to the general public, while still protecting the health, welfare, peace and morals of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This was always the purpose of the Liquor Code.

While the changes do not abolish restrictions on Pennsylvania licensees, the overall purpose of the law apparently is to provide licensees with greater flexibility and opportunity for sales in a changing marketplace. However, there are new regulations to be understood.

One interesting amendment that has received wide public attention is the fact that licensed restaurants and hotels will be able to obtain a Wine Expanded Permit. This permit will allow the restaurants and hotels to sell wine for off premises consumption much like take out beer sales. These permit holders can sell up to 3000 millimeters of wine in a single transaction, which is four 750 millimeters bottles of wine. The application fee for this permit is $2,000.00, and the annual renewal fee is equal to 2% of the cost of the wine purchased from the PLCB for off premises consumption.

This permit has its own set of regulations for licensees to comply with. The permit holder must be RAMP certified and must use a transactional scanning devise to verify the age of all patrons appearing to be under 35 years of age before the wine sale can be made. (Yes, they must scan all patrons under 35 not just under 21 years.)

The wine is to be stored in an area that is locked when the licensee’s employees are not accessing the storage area and the storage area is to be identified on PLCB forms. There are additional forms and requirements, and prohibitions involved with this permit. As for example the Wine Permit Holder cannot sell a private label product.

The Liquor Code House Bill No. 1690 amendments are new and it remains to be seen how effective these overall reforms will be as they apply to Pennsylvania licensees in a changing marketplace.

Click here to read the full bill. There are other changes to the Liquor Code that will be reviewed in future columns.