HARRISBURG – A bill by Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton) to close a loophole in the updated liquor laws and to give voters more say in their community was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Act 48 of 2019, formerly House Bill 423
, allows county elections offices to put referendum questions on ballots to authorize “dry” municipalities to issue special liquor licenses to manufacturers, such as breweries, limited distilleries and limited wineries.
“I want to thank all members of the General Assembly for recognizing the value of my bill as they approved this legislation unanimously throughout the legislative process,” Topper said.
Included in recently passed updates to the Commonwealth’s liquor laws, is a provision that allows exemptions in local communities to authorize specific licenses to manufacturers, such as brewpubs, in what are known as dry municipalities.
“Since then, we have witnessed a rise in the number of establishments that sell and serve alcohol operating in dry municipalities through a loophole created in the liquor law updates,” Topper said. “My bill closes this loophole and allows local residents to vote on a ballot question to explicitly opt-in or opt-out of allowing on-premise sales for manufacturers.”
About 25% of the state’s municipalities have chosen to ban the sale of alcohol in one form or another. The all-or-nothing question voters must answer doesn’t fit for all dry municipalities. Topper’s legislation would create a referendum to give voters the choice to allow their municipality to stay completely dry, allow limited sales or convert to wet.
Topper’s bill was amended by the Senate Law and Justice Committee to require a flat 500 signatures for a ballot referendum for a municipality to change from dry to wet, or vice versa. This change is limited to counties that have a population of between 500,000 and 799,999.
The law takes effect 60 days from the date it was signed.
Representative Jesse Topper
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross