Speaker Heralds Historic First as Pittsburgh Grocer Sells Wine - Private sale of wine ends Prohibition Era
HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) applauded employees from a Pittsburgh supermarket today for making history and becoming the first Pennsylvania store to sell wine since the Prohibition Era due to his privatization measures in Act 39 of 2016.

Giant Eagle’s in-store restaurant at the Robinson Market District at Settlers Ridge welcomed Turzai to ceremonies marking the start of private sales there, which will give consumers more options when it comes to where they purchase their favorite wine varieties.

“This historic moment demonstrates that private businesses, unlike government, can react quickly to meet customer demands,” said Turzai. “Pennsylvania consumers can finally buy bread, Bordeaux and beer all in one convenient location.”

Prior to Act 39, Pennsylvania had once been one of only two states (Utah the other) where government had full control over both retail and wholesale sale of wine and liquor.

Following the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 5, 1933, which repealed the 18th Amendment’s national prohibition of alcohol, then Pennsylvania Gov. Gifford Pinchot created the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), whose articulated mission was to make liquor sales “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.”

Since 2003, Turzai has led efforts to privatize liquor and wine sales by dismantling the PLCB’s total control. Under Act 39, Pennsylvania consumers will not only be able to buy wine from eligible grocery stores but also to have direct shipment of wine to their homes and buy wine-to-go from restaurants and hotels. With the implementation of Turzai’s bill, Pennsylvania becomes the 44th state to permit direct shipping.

“After more than 80 years of full government control, the Prohibition Era has ended and the Privatization Era has begun,” said Turzai.

As of this week, 81 Pennsylvania grocery and privately run stores can sell wine in Pennsylvania. More than 174 stores have already applied and are expected to have permits in days. More than 100 direct shippers have also applied with more than two dozen already permitted to sell straight to the door.

“Grocery store wine sales, direct shipments, and wine-to-go in restaurants are just the first steps in delivering full privatization,” said Turzai.

The House first passed full privatization in March 2013, via House Bill 790, but the Senate did not vote on the bill. The House then passed full privatization three additional times this session. The House passed House Bill 466 on Feb. 25, 2015, where it was slightly amended by the Senate on June 30, 2015, and concurred upon in the House. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The House once again passed full privatization, House Bill 1690, on Nov. 19, 2015.

While the House had initially sought more expansive privatization, in the spirit of compromise, an amended version of Turzai’s House Bill 1690 was passed by the House on June 7, 2016, by a vote of 157-31. That bill was signed into law by the governor June 8, and was effective after 60 days, Aug. 8, 2016, when applications from private-sector businesses started to be received.

Representative Mike Turzai
The Speaker
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jay Ostrich
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