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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law that expands retailers' ability to sell beer and wine within the state. The bill makes permanent gas stations' ability to sell six-packs of beer, allows grocery stores that currently sell beer to sell up to four bottles of wine and removes Sunday restrictions and state-mandated holidays.
The bill also adds enhanced customer loyalty programs and opens up coupons at state stores; provides options for flexible pricing so that state stores can offer special discounts and sales; allows restaurants and hotels to sell up to four bottles of wine for take-out; and allows direct shipments of wine to people's homes.
"This is truly a historic day for Pennsylvania and the most significant step the commonwealth has taken to reform our liquor system in 80 years," stated Wolf. "I want to commend leaders and members from both parties in the House and Senate for coming together to pass this legislation, and today, I am proud to design it into law. As I have always said, my goal is to modernize the sale of liquor and beer in Pennsylvania and this reform package finally brings Pennsylvania's wine and spirits system into the 21st century."
Wolf previously expressed support of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's approval of nine applications to sell six-packs of beer at gas stations earlier in June, as CSNews Online previously reported.
"As the author of the final version of this bill, I am extremely grateful that all sides were able to set aside partisanship and unite around a plan that truly puts the consumers first," said State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney. "I would also like to thank the governor for reaching a compromise that puts the citizens of Pennsylvania ahead of politics. The reforms included in this bill are measures that consumers have requested for years, and I appreciate the fact that we were able to reach a compromise that responds to the most pressing concerns we hear from community residents."
The legislation does not affect sales of hard liquor or close any of the state's approximately 600 state-owned liquor stores. However, some critics of the bill claimed that it would undermine the finances of such stores and potentially lead to increased alcohol abuse in Pennsylvania, reported The Associated Press.
Supporters of the bill have stated that supermarkets and big-box retail stores are likely to purchase takeout licenses from existing license holders or from the state.
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed stated he sees the bill as a step toward liquor privatization that will produce approximately $150 million in new revenue for Pennsylvania.
"This historic legislation is a tremendous leap into bringing Pennsylvanian into the 21st century," said House Speaker Mike Turzai, who was the prime sponsor of the legislation. "This privatization bill will bring consumers the added choice and convenience they have been asking for since Prohibition."