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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The state's Senate Law and Justice Committee amended and approved a House bill Wednesday that would allow grocery and convenience retailers with restaurants within their stores to sell beer at those locations if they have a license.
The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is expected to be voted on in the full Senate later this fall and if passed, would go back to the House, which approved the original bill in June, for a vote on the changes, The Morning Call reported.
Sheetz. Inc. would benefit from the bill's approval, as the company has been fighting for permission to sell beer at its Altoona, Pa., convenience restaurant. Pennsylvania is the only state where Sheetz doesn’t sell alcoholic beverages. The chain has 192 stores in the state; a little less than half the entire chain has legal permission to sell alcoholic beverages.
A stiff battle remains in convincing legislators to change the law, however, because the legislation is drawing sharp criticism from beer distributors, the newspaper report stated. The Malt Beverage Distributors' Association of Pennsylvania is opposed because it would allow large chains, such as Sheetz or Wegmans, to sell beer with a license.
"Effectively, you're putting the beer distributors out of business," Malt Beverage Distributors' spokeswoman Mary Lou Hogan told The Morning Call. "There's no way a distributor can compete against the likes of a Sheetz or Wegmans."
Unlike convenience stores and grocery stores, beer distributors are limited to selling just beer, soda and snacks. Additionally, a distributor is only allowed one license, Hogan said, while a chain can get a license for each retail location, the report said.