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Act 39 amending the Liquor Code is now in effect, as of August 8, 2016. House Bill No.1690 is now known as Act 39 of 2016. Act 39 has significant changes affecting all licensees.

There are new license safekeeping rules. Previously a license could be held in safekeeping for a period of three years, now it is only two years. For any yearly extensions a substantial fee was to be paid to the PLCB, previously for example the fee was $5,000.00 for counties of the first class (Philadelphia) through fourth class. The fee has now been increased to $10,000.00 and for fifth through eighth counties the safekeeping fee has increased from $2500.00 to $5,000.00 for the first additional safekeeping year past the initial 2 year safekeeping.

Now for each year past the first safekeeping extension year those fees are doubled $10,000.00 to $20,000.00 and $5,000.00 to $10,000.00. For each additional year those fees are again doubled, so the $20,000.00 paid in year four becomes $40,000.00. The doubling of the safekeeping fees continues for each additional safekeeping extension year applied for.

Obviously, the intent of this provision is to force licensees to either use the license or sell it to someone that will.

No safekeeping fees apply if the licensee can provide evidence that it was unable to use the license because of events beyond the licensee’s control, fire, flood, or failure to obtain an occupancy permit from the municipality. Licensees must still pay the fees where the business simply fails.

As to RAMP all alcoholic service personnel shall be required to be certified under the PLCB’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP)within 6 months of being hired by a licensee, unless the employee was previously certified and current. Alcohol service personnel includes bartenders, waiters, or with a distributor the salesperson responsible for the actual sale.

Employees acting as doorpersons, who are responsible for checking the age of individuals attempting to enter the premises must also be RAMP certified.

Licensees must become aware of the new license requirements or risk the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement issuing a citation for violations of the Liquor Code which includes the Act 39 changes.

Note the State Police will definitely check on the employee RAMP compliance as they have done in the past.

If you have any questions about the changes to the law please contact us at (215) 545-3682 or ed@paliquorlaw.com. We would love the opportunity to help you with any questions you might have. The PLCB Office of Chief Counsel has issued an excellent summary of Act 39 which is available online from the PLCB website at www.lcb.state.pa.us

Licenses have overall increased in value, so it is an important asset of your business to be protected.