Pa. lawmakers approve expanded Sunday beer sales

December 07, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania beer lovers will soon have more time to buy beer on Sundays under a bill that lawmakers approved with bipartisan support Wednesday and sent to the governor.

The legislation, which originally sought to create a liquor license for small Pennsylvania distilleries, was amended without fanfare in the Senate to include a potpourri of changes to the state liquor code.

The Senate approved the amended version 40-9 and the House followed suit a short time later, 170-32.

Gov. Tom Corbett plans to sign the bill, spokesman Gary Miller said.

One provision will allow Pennsylvania beer distributors to do business on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. — more than double the noon-to-5 p.m. period mandated by current law.

Distributors, which sell beer by the case, also will no longer have to obtain names, addresses and other personal information from customers who buy four or more cases at a time.

Another provision allows restaurants that serve brunch or breakfast prior to 11 a.m. on Sundays to begin serving alcoholic beverages as early as 9 a.m.

The legislation does create a license for Pennsylvania distilleries that produce 100,000 gallons or less of distilled spirits annually to sell bottled liquor at the distillery and as many as two satellite locations so long as the price is the same as the price in state-owned liquor stores.

Distilleries also will be allowed to provide tasting samples of liquor of up to 1.5 fluid ounces.

"I think we'll see some of these craft distilleries, particularly in touristy-type areas," said Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, the sponsor of the original bill.

The legislation also will ease restrictions on noise at licensed establishments, extend recently expanded happy-hour rules to restaurants that sell only beer and allow an interior connection between a licensed business and an unlicensed business as long as it is not more than 10 feet wide.

Rep. Paul I. Clymer, R-Bucks, was the only House member to speak out against the measure, pointing out that drunken driving and underage drinking remain serious problems.

The bill "greatly expands the use of alcoholic beverages," Clymer said.

Everett said he agreed to let his bill be used as a vehicle for a number of liquor-code changes sought by individual legislators because comprehensive measures often stand a better chance of passage.

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