Liquor Control Board

Fourteen hours after the polls closed and voters decided Bellevue would no longer be ‘dry,’ the first liquor license application was submitted in more than 80 years.

Specialty Group, a liquor license broker and lender for restaurants and bars, submitted the application on behalf of Grille 565 on Lincoln Avenue. Ned Sokoloff, the company’s president and CEO, said the Liquor Control Board received the application by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Ian Turton/ Flickr

  More Pennsylvanians under 21 consume alcohol than the national average, according to a report released by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board on underage and dangerous drinking habits.

A once popular issue is now falling into the background, especially in the upcoming gubernatorial general election: the privatization of liquor.

Back in January of 2013, Governor Tom Corbett proposed changing Pennsylvania’s liquor laws and joining the already “48 other states,” whose sale and control of wine and spirits rests in the hands of the private market. Utah is the only other state with controls similar to Pennsylvcania's.

Pennsylvania State Police tasked with enforcing the commonwealth's liquor code say a new proposal to make it OK to buy booze across the state border misses the point.

A new state House plan would allow Pennsylvanians to buy alcohol across state lines and bring it back for personal consumption — or to be reimbursed for the now-contraband beverages they buy for friends and family.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is not considering boosting its markup on wine and spirits, an assurance from the board’s chairman which comes after a leaked memo suggested the 30 percent markup get its first increase in roughly 20 years.

The memo shared with The Associated Press was penned by the LCB’s financial department and suggests a 5 percent increase to the agency’s 30 percent markup on wine and liquor.

The state is cutting back on charging a fee to bars and taverns that offer small-time gambling in an attempt to boost interest in the gaming licenses and bring in more money to state coffers.

The $2,000 license will now cost $500 to bars, restaurants and taverns looking to allow small-time gambling on their premises. State lawmakers authorized the change recently.

“We were happy to lower the licensing fee to encourage more tavern owners to apply for the tavern gaming license,” said Skip Brion, chairman of the Liquor Control Board, which grants the licenses.

“Pop-up gardens” are stretching the intent of laws that regulate liquor catering permits, say some PA lawmakers.

Liquor license holders that cater to weddings, company celebrations, non-profit fundraisers, and other events rely on off-premise permits to serve alcohol at various locations. However, some Philadelphia liquor-license holders are taking advantage of these permits to set up semi-permanent bars dubbed “pop-up gardens” that sell liquor ten hours a day, seven days a week.

The week leading up to Thanksgiving is always a high volume time for liquor sales, and the action in the Pittsburgh area is always among the heaviest in the state. In fact, PLCB stores in Allegheny County sold more wine and spirits in all of 2012 than any other county in Pennsylvania.

According to the state Liquor Control Board (LCB), the county made up 13.4 percent of state sales, bringing in more than $260 million; Philadelphia was second at $231 million.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board reported revenue near $2.2 billion for fiscal year 2012-2013, a 4.5 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, contributions to various state agencies and the general fund exceeded a record-setting $660 million dollars.

Still, this news doesn’t sway Gov. Tom Corbett, who remains a proponent of privatizing the state’s liquor system.

Heather McClain / WESA

Two weeks ago Hofbrauhaus in the South Side agreed to pay $15.6 million in a settlement after one of their patrons consumed copious amounts of alcohol and proceeded to kill a seven year old girl while driving drunk down Carson Street. When a bar patron has too much to drink resulting in an accident who is ultimately at fault? And when it comes to serving drinks, how do you know when a patron has had too much. How do you handle the situation?

House Republicans are still holding onto a goal of passing a liquor privatization plan in their chamber by early April, though it may not look like the governor’s original proposal to unload the more than 600 state liquor stores.

Democratic state Senator Anthony Williams of Philadelphia asserted Monday that Republicans have not coalesced around Governor Corbett’s liquor privatization plan, noting that many GOP legislators are interested first in modernizing the existing liquor system.

Liquor Sales in PA: Modernize or Privatize?

Mar 17, 2013
William Ward / Flickr

Many policy makers in the commonwealth are looking for ways to change the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. But not all agree on what changes need to be made. State Senator Jim Ferlo joins us to explain how he thinks the PLCB should be modernized.  And Matthew Brouillette, President and CEO of the public policy group, the Commonwealth Foundation explains his group's privatization approach, which the Corbett administration is in favor of. 

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

Liquor Privatization Would Bring More Code Enforcement

Feb 25, 2013

The future of Pennsylvania’s liquor system is being debated as the state legislature deals with privatization proposals, but if anything changes, liquor code enforcement will likely need to be beefed up to keep pace with new demands.

State Representative Scott Petri (R-Bucks County) said, if consumers want access and convenience as far as alcohol is concerned, the cost of enforcement will likely go up as a result.