Costa legislation calls for consumer convenience within the liquor system

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, said he has introduced legislation that that would finally provide consumers with the added convenience they have requested when purchasing alcohol in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 1654 would allow restaurants, small delis and hotels to sell wine to go and beer in additional quantities, while beer distributors would now be able to sell six-packs, mixed cases and growlers for people looking to sample different styles of beer. Licensed grocery stores also would be permitted to sell bottles of wine in addition to beer.

Costa said these benefits would be in addition to expanding Sunday store hours for Fine Wine and Good Spirit Stores, creating a customer reward and discount program, and allowing for the shipment of wine directly to consumers.

"House Bill 1654 would provide the convenience that Pennsylvania consumers have been asking for," Costa said. "I hope the General Assembly will move this bill quickly through so we can give the people what they requested."

Costa said his legislation would create jobs while preserving family-sustaining jobs, provide additional ways for people to purchase wine and beer in areas underserved by the Liquor Control Board and keep prices down.

Costa added the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, Giant Eagle and Wegmans have all reached out to him in support of his legislation.

Wegmans said it hopes to be able to sell wines made in Pennsylvania since it already offers the opportunities for customers to purchase Pennsylvania-made beer and microbrews at its in-store restaurants.

"Our stores in New Jersey, for example, have sold over 5,000 cases of wine produced by New Jersey wineries in 2015 year to date," said Blaine Forkell, Pennsylvania Division manager of Wegmans. "All of our stores promote local wineries through a variety of means such as tastings, winemaker appearances, advertising and prominent in-store displays, and the results speak for themselves."

The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters said its 95,000 members strongly support Costa’s legislation.

"We firmly believe the increase in sales of wine and beer will increase family sustaining jobs in the commonwealth," said Bill Hamilton, president of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters. "We believe the legislation addresses what the public’s real concern is with our current system and that is convenience."