Vetoed take-out mixed drink bill passes Pennsylvania Senate

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HARRISBURG, Pa .– The Republican-controlled state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that significantly expands outlets that can sell bottles or cans of mixed alcoholic beverages to go, although Democrats have called it a poison pill which will kill other provisions designed to help restaurants and bars.

The bill was narrowly passed, 26-24, with two Republicans and the only independent in the House joining all Democrats in opposing a bill intended to be vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The bill then goes to the House.

Originally, the bill had bipartisan support to expand the provisions for bars and restaurants to help them make money under COVID-19 restrictions.

SEE ALSO: Take-out cocktails and alfresco dining allowed during pandemic in Pennsylvania must stop, says PLCB

These provisions included allowing establishments to set up outdoor seating without charge or inspections and to prepare mixed strong alcoholic beverages and sell them in take-out containers.

Wolf’s support changed after Republicans inserted a provision allowing beer and wine licensees like grocery stores, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and beer distributors to sell mixed drinks in cans or strong alcohol bottles.

Private wholesalers would sell the products to retailers, not to the state-controlled liquor store system.

Currently, only state-owned liquor stores are licensed to sell the products at retail in Pennsylvania.

Democrats said the provision would divert revenue from state-owned liquor stores and exacerbate the problem of illegal alcohol sales at convenience stores and delis.

Republicans said it would increase state tax revenue and improve consumer comfort.

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