New Bill Would Allow Grocery & Convenience Stores To Sell Hard Liquor

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Call it spirits-to-go.

Instead of just wine for sale at your local grocery store, convenience store, or restaurant bar, how about a fifth of vodka, gin, or bourbon?

“This simply provides more choice for consumers in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Reese told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Reese, a Mt. Pleasant Republican, says it’s time to do for spirits what the state did for wine.

“My legislation mimics that legislation. We just switch it out with spirits.”

Under Reese’s bill, which now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives, any of the state’s 11,234 restaurants, bars, convenience stores or grocery stores with an “R” license from the Liquor Control Board could buy a $2,000 permit to sell up to three liters — usually four bottles — of hard liquor to a consumer.

“I believe it will ultimately create that one-stop shop that so many of my consumers talk about, a place where they can buy their beer, wine, and spirits without having to go to three different locations,” adds Reese.

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“I think we’ve gone far enough,” says Pennsylvania Rep. Paul Costa, a Wilkins Democrat who is the Democratic chair of the House Liquor Committee.

Costa says hard liquor is very different from wine.

“The alcohol content is a lot higher. I don’t believe we need access everywhere for it.”

Costa worries about too easy access for those who should not be drinking, along with lost jobs at local State Stores from the competition.

“It’s 5,000 jobs that we have in our state right now that deals with the State Store system.”

But Reese expects only 400 locations to apply for liquor-to-go permits, as they did for wine-to-go, which he says won’t harm the state stores.

The state House could vote as early as this Wednesday on “spirits-to-go.”

A companion bill was introduced in the state Senate by Pennsylvania Sen. Randy Vulakovich of Shaler.

In a statement, Governor Wolf said he does not support this measure, at least until the state has fully implemented the liquor reforms of last year.

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