Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Sends Bill to Wolf That Expands Wine Sales

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Sends Bill to Wolf That Expands Wine Sales

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -This fall, for the first time, Pennsylvanians might be able to buy a bottle of Chardonnay in the same store that they buy their Thanksgiving turkey.

With an unexpected 157-31 vote Tuesday, the House approved a bill that would allow restaurants, hotels and hundreds of grocery and convenience stores to sell up to four bottles of wine to go, and also allow wine producers and importers to ship cases directly to a consumer's home. The measure had been approved by the Senate late last year but languished untouched for nearly six months. The House leader's office had laid out its plans for this week's legislative session without mentioning the bill.

The vote presents Gov. Tom Wolf with a high-stakes decision.

The push by House Republicans to disband the state business in wine and liquor sales became entangled in last year's budget impasse, and the Democratic governor at one point agreed to sign it, but only as part of a larger deal that then fell apart. He now faces the wine bill by itself, as the deadline for this year's budget approaches without visible progress between Republican leaders and the governor.

The governor's office released a statement in which Mr. Wolf called the bill headed to his desk "historic liquor modernization legislation that provides greater customer convenience to the people of Pennsylvania." But he did not say whether he will sign it, and his spokesman declined to discuss the governor's thinking.

"Once the bill reaches my desk, I will conduct a final review of the legislation to ensure it meets my goals of enhancing the customer experience, increasing much-needed revenue to help balance our budget, and bringing our wine and spirits system into the 21st century," Mr. Wolf said.

Businesses that would be affected by the changes are watching. The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association urged the governor to sign the bill, and the Distilled Spirits Council warned that moving only wine into grocery stores would hurt distillers. …

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