HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The House Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), is hosting a public hearing to discuss how COVID-19 mitigation efforts are impacting restaurants, bars and taverns across the state as lawmakers work toward a path to economic recovery.
Passage of HB 2615, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R, Montgomery County), would include the following:
- 1. Creating a Community Cornerstone Grant Program, to provide grants to small business restaurants and taverns to assist with COVID-19-related business losses, and expenses including costs associated with new outdoor seating, educational expenses including trade association memberships, hand sanitizer, staff PPE, indoor separators (plexiglass installation), digital thermometers… etc.
- 2. Elimination of all license fees and surcharges for liquor-related service establishments for two years, provided the establishment had previously allowed on-site consumption.
- 3. Elimination of all small games of chance license fees for R, H, E, and clubs for two years.
- 4. Passage of SB 1194 or similar legislation providing limited civil Immunity from liability for bars, taverns and restaurants that attempt, in good faith, to adhere to the provisions of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Governor’s 3-16-2020 COVID-19 Business Closure Order or any other executive order relating to COVID-19, or any guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health or the Secretary of Health.
- 5. Creation of a Small Business Tavern and Licensed Restaurant Promotion Program coordinated by both the PLCB and the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association to equal those financed for the beer, wine and spirits craft industries.
- 6. Create a Liquor Licensee Specialty Council consisting of specialty associations within the industry including taverns, clubs, brew pubs, wineries, and distilleries to build future industry/state government dialogue.
- 7. Permanent acceptance of mixed drinks-to-go as a business practice under the state Liquor Laws.
- 8. To save money from delivery charges, allow licensed establishments the ability to pick up and deliver their own malt beverage orders, like the model followed when ordering spirits through the PLCB
- 9. Encourage outdoor seating by making the free temporary licensed premise extensions permanent at no additional cost to the licensee.
- 10. Encourage outdoor seating expansion and support the entertainment industry by allowing up to 75 decibels of noise on a property line for all establishments with a liquor license, not just some.
- 11. Modernize the state’s sanitation requirements to require tap cleaning once every 14 days.
- 12. Cap third-party delivery charges for home delivery of meals from all restaurants and taverns.
- 13. Increase discount that licensed establishments receive when purchasing liquor through state stores.
- 14. Eliminate the $50 minimum purchase requirement at state stores in order for a licensed establishment to receive a discount.
The hearing is taking place at the House Majority Caucus Room, Room 140 Main Capitol, Harrisburg.