York County House Republican Delegation Votes for Customer Choice, Free Enterprise

Members of the delegation support the effort to break up liquor monopoly 

HARRISBURG – Members of the York County House Republican Delegation today made a historic vote in support of House Bill 790, which would end the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s role in the sale and marketing of wine and liquor so it would instead focus on enforcing state liquor laws.

“Today’s historic vote begins to move our Commonwealth out of a disjointed system of selling wine and spirits that is antithetical to our free market system and confusing for consumers, especially those who reside out of state,” said Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R-Windsor Township).  “This legislation moves our state stores into the private sector, and allows the adult beverages which consumers most frequently purchase to be sold in certain grocery and convenience stores. It gives current beverage distributors more beer packaging options and also would allow them to sell wine and spirits. These are changes consumers have been demanding from us for a long time.”  

Because of the current fragmented system, Pennsylvania loses customers in border counties, like York, to what is known as border bleed. 

“Most of us probably know someone in York, Lancaster or Adams County who for years has been making the trip south for wine and spirits, maybe even throwing in a stop for something to eat at their favorite Maryland restaurant,” Rep. Ron Miller (R-Jacobus) added. “It’s time to bring that practice to an end and keep those consumer dollars north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

Pennsylvania is one of only two states in the nation to hold a complete monopoly on the wholesale and retail sale of liquor.  The general public has shown overwhelming support for ending the state’s monopoly on the sale of liquor.  Pennsylvania customers are not afforded the same choice, convenience or value as those in other states where there is a free-market system for alcohol sales.

“A newsletter poll I conducted showed the majority of those surveyed have grown tired of having to make multiple stops, especially when they hear stories of their neighbors to the south enjoying the convenience of ‘one-stop shopping,’” Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam) said. “This is a vote for consumer choice and the free enterprise system.”

House Bill 790 will provide 1,200 licenses to sell wine and spirits, with beer distributors getting the first opportunity to purchase licenses.  The legislation also would allow grocery stores to sell wine for greater customer convenience.

“The bottom line is, Americans don’t want to be told where they have to go to buy any product they want to purchase,” said Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover).  “House Bill 790 is about consumer choice and convenience, which is the American way.  This legislation will modernize our system and bring us in line with nearly every other state in the nation.”

Rep. Will Tallman (R-Hanover) noted that the legislation would increase consumer choices, but will not create a free-for-all system.  The legislation would still restrict the sale of alcohol from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Saturday.  Licensees would need to purchase an additional permit for Sunday sales, which would be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

“House Bill 790 addresses safety concerns by increasing safeguards at all three key points – before, during and after the purchase – through education, regulation and enforcement,” Tallman said. “Most importantly, getting Pennsylvania out of the business of selling liquor means the board can focus on what LCB stands for – liquor control.”   

Under the legislation, the PLCB would end its conflicted role as the marketer of wine and liquor to focus solely on enforcement of liquor laws, such as preventing underage drinking and driving under the influence.

“The bill would increase enforcement and protection through the expansion of state police involvement in liquor control enforcement,” said Rep. Mike Regan (R-Dillsburg). “In addition, the threat of license revocation serves as an incentive to private licensees to follow the law to protect their business investment. There is no such incentive in the current system. As a former law enforcement officer, the bill has safeguards built in to ensure that these legal products will be sold safely and properly. It eliminates the inherent conflict of interest in the current system.” 

House Bill 790 will now go before the Senate for its consideration.  More information about the bill is available at www.PAHouseGOP.com.

York County House Repubilcan Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Scott Little