Restaurants, hotels could sell bottles of booze to go, under local state rep’s new bill

Existing laws allow restaurants to sell up to four bottles of take-out wine and six-packs of beer — but this takes that one step farther and includes to-go liquor.

Want to order that booze at your favorite restaurant or hotel to go? It could happen soon.

A Western Pennsylvania state representative has introduced a bill that would make it legal for liquor license-holding restaurants and hotels to sell up to 3,000 milliliters — that’s four “fifths” — of alcohol to customers any time before 11 p.m.

The introduction of the bill this month from Rep. Mike Reese, R-Somerset and Westmoreland, comes just three months after Gov. Tom Wolf signed a liquor modernization law, known as Act 39 of 2016. Act 39 set in motion reforms aimed at updating Pennsylvania’s antiquated liquor law, instituting changes that ranged from allowing the purchase of wine in grocery stores to extended hours at Fine Wine & Good Spirits shops to allowing brewpubs to offer customer loyalty discounts.

Act 39 also allows restaurants to sell up to four bottles of take-out wine to customers, similar to how they can sell six-packs of beer. This new bill, currently called HB2357, would take that one step farther and include to-go liquor.

The bill stipulates establishments that already hold liquor licenses would have to apply for a “spirit expanded permit.” The application fee is $2,000, and establishments would be required to pay an annual renewal fee equal to 2 percent of the cost of spirits purchased from the Liquor Control Board used specifically for “off-premises consumption.” The money made would be transferred each year into the state’s General Fund.

“It is my belief that this legislation will continue to move our Commonwealth’s liquor system into the 21st century,” Reese wrote in a memo, “while providing greater convenience for our constituents in regards to purchasing spirits and providing our Commonwealth with needed revenue.”

The bill requires to-go liquor sales stop at 11 p.m. and cashiers must scan the ID of anyone purchasing liquor who appears to be under 35.

Here’s the full text of the bill:

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