HARRISBURG – Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today voted for a bill that would remove the government from the alcohol business by privatizing the sale of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania. House Bill 466 passed the House by a vote of 114-87 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
“Pennsylvania’s current state-run system of selling alcohol is outdated and ineffective,” Heffley said. “We are one of only two states that still adhere to this antiquated model. House Bill 466
responsibly moves the Commonwealth into the 21st century by placing alcohol sales back into the hands of privately owned businesses while strengthening the state’s enforcement of its existing alcohol laws.”
House Bill 466 would allow distributors the option to sell beer, wine and liquor in one licensed location, granting consumers greater choice and convenience. It would also double the number of outlets where people can purchase wine and spirits and allow beer distributors to sell six-packs, 12-packs and growlers. Under current law, distributors may only sell cases.
The plan would retain the government’s regulatory control of alcohol distribution, strengthen law enforcement and clamp down on underage drinking. The bill would also increase monetary penalties for all liquor violations, require all new licensees to use an ID scanner before selling alcohol, increase funding for the state police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, and forbid customers purchasing wine in a grocery store from using the self-checkout lane.
“Some constituents have expressed concerns with the potential negative effects of privatizing alcohol sales. After carefully reviewing the safeguards for enforcement and regulation contained in this bill, I am confident that our locally owned small businesses, bars, restaurants and distributors will continue to responsibly sell alcohol,” Heffley said.
Facing a projected $2 billion budget shortfall this fiscal year, Pennsylvania would receive a needed boost in revenue under House Bill 466. The bill would generate $1.167 billion in one-time license fees in addition to $38.2 million in recurring permit and renewal fees. Furthermore, the bill would make no changes to the current taxes imposed on alcohol sales in Pennsylvania. Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania generated $320.9 million in liquor taxes and $124.9 million in sales taxes. These taxes will remain in place and continue to support the General Fund under House Bill 466.
The bill also includes measures that would help displaced state liquor store employees find new jobs by providing tax incentives to businesses that hire them, as well as offering those employees grants for education.
“While I recognize that many quality employees are currently employed by our state system, at the end of the day this proposal is aimed at achieving what is best for the Commonwealth, and that is getting government out of the alcohol business.”
For more information, visit www.RepHeffley.com