3 States Move on Alcohol Permitting

Efforts clear paths to sales in more convenience stores and grocery

By 
Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

free the six-pack

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- Efforts to modernize liquor-sales laws progressed in three states recently. Each pending bill would improve convenience stores' ability to sell beer and, in some cases, other alcohol beverages.

Here's a digest of the recent actions.

Permitting Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf in a letter urged the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) to "free the six-pack" by awarding liquor licenses to nine retail sites that sell gasoline. The encouragement came even as the question of whether gas stations should be allowed to sell six-packs of beer waits before the state's highest court.

By unanimous vote, the PLCB on May 25 added the sites in Luzerne, Washington, Huntingdon, Columbia and Allegheny counties to the list of those permitted to sell both gas and beer, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

State law bars businesses from selling both beer and gas, but some convenience stores and other businesses with gas pumps have circumvented the ban by applying for a specific PLCB license that lets them sell takeout beer if they also offer an in-house eating area.

An Opening in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, voters will have a chance to decide whether to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and strong beer under legislation approved by the Oklahoma Senate on May 23.

The Senate voted 30-14 for a joint resolution calling for a public vote in November, according to an Associated Press report.

Liquor, wine and strong beer are now sold only at licensed package stores, which are strictly regulated and closed on Sundays. Oklahoma allows only refrigerated low-point beer to be sold at grocery and convenience stores until 2 a.m. and on Sundays.

If approved by voters, wine and strong beer could be sold at grocery and convenience stores.

Colorado Compromise

And in Colorado on May 24, supporters of a bill that would allow more retailers to sell full-strength beer and wine urged Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign the measure.

The bill allows grocery and convenience stores to gradually buy a limited number of liquor licenses over time. It represents a compromise attempt to ward off a ballot measure that could greatly expand sales at grocery stores immediately, according to a Colorado Public Radio report.

Hickenlooper has until June 10 to make up his mind.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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