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    Sheetz Rallies Customers to Support Beer Reform

    Pennsylvania's House Bill 790 could be up for vote today.

    ALTOONA, Pa. -- Sheetz Inc. sent a rallying cry to the e-mail inboxes of its loyalty card members — and the message was "Free My Beer."

    According to a report by Pennlive.com, the message contained a link to FreeMyBeer.com, a website promoting House Bill 790, a proposal that — if passed — would get the state of Pennsylvania out of the business of selling booze. The website states: “Make 2013 the year of reform! … move Pennsylvania from the Prohibition era.”

    As CSNews Online previously reported, Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal calls for shutting down Pennsylvania’s 600 state-owned liquor stores; allowing 1,200 wine and spirit licenses to be auctioned off; and the issuing of separate licenses for supermarkets, convenience stores and big-box retailers. In addition, restaurants and taverns could sell beer and up to six bottles of wine to go.

    The law could go up for a vote in the Pennsylvania House today, where it may have enough votes to pass, reported the news outlet. However, it could face opposition in the Senate.

    If the bill becomes law, c-stores will be able to sell six-packs with a $15,000-a-year license, while grocery stores could sell six bottles of wine and 12-packs of beer with a license costing between $25,000 and $30,000 annually.

    Sheetz has more than 430 locations across six states — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. It sells beer in states where it is legally permissible, and wants to expand those sales in Pennsylvania.

    Previously, Sheetz solicited “Free My Beer” signatures and handed out T-shirts during Pittsburgh Steelers games, reported the news outlet. In addition, Louie Sheetz, the c-store chain's executive vice president, marketing, applauded the potential passage of the law in February.

    "We have been lobbying for adult beverage sales reform for a long time," said Sheetz. "Although Gov. Corbett's proposal is centered around liquor, we are very excited that beer sales are part of the consideration. Allowing the private sector to manage the sale of alcoholic beverages is long overdue."

    However, Sheetz added that he would like the governor to reconsider annual renewal plans, which would be "too expensive," he said.

    Meanwhile, beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors have signed a letter of objection to the bill, calling it "detrimental to the beer industry." The suppliers were joined in their opposition by The Brewers of Pennsylvania advocacy group and The Pennsylvania Beer Alliance.

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