On December 22, 2011, Governor Corbett signed House Bill No. 242 (PN 2815) into law. Now known as Act 113 of 2011, the bill made changes to numerous sections of the Liquor Code. These changes as they pertain to Distributors (D) and Importing Distributors (ID) are summarized below, and the dates the various changes go into effect are also noted. For a complete summary of changes as they pertain to all classes of Licensees, please go to www.lcb.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/legal_issues/17503. If you have any questions about what these changes mean, or about other provisions of the liquor laws, you may contact the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Office of Chief Counsel, 401 Northwest Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17124, phone (717) 783-9454.
Distributors and Importing Distributors
Effective immediately, distributors and importing distributors holding a Sunday sales permit may sell malt or brewed beverages to non-licensees and holders of special occasion permits on Sundays between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Previously, such Sunday sales were limited to the hours between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. [47 P.S. § 4-492.1(c)].
Effective immediately, distributors and importing distributors are no longer required to collect the name, address, or any other identifying information, from private individuals who purchase malt or brewed beverages. [47 P.S. § 4-441(i)]. Licensees may wish to continue to collect such identifying information for purposes of section 495 of the Liquor Code, including the establishment of a defense to a citation for selling alcohol to a minor. [47 P.S. § 4-495].
Further, effective February 20, 2012, distributors and importing distributors may, without Board approval, sell any book, magazine or other publication related to malt or brewed beverages, and may also sell “homebrewing” equipment, ingredients or other supplies. [47 P.S. § 4-492(12)].
Responsible Alcohol Management Program Training
Effective February 20, 2012, unless successfully completed prior to appointment, a manager appointed by a restaurant, eating place retail dispenser, hotel, club, limited distillery, or distributor licensee must complete the Board’s Responsible Alcohol Management Program’s (“RAMP”) manager/owner training within one hundred eighty (180) days of the Board’s approval of the appointment. [47 P.S. § 4-471.1(g)].
Issuance of Worthless Checks
Effective February 20, 2012, a licensee which receives a worthless check from another licensee for payment of malt or brewed beverages must notify the licensee which issued the check, and the Board’s Malt Beverage Compliance Officer (“MBCO”), of the dishonored check by certified mail within five (5) days of receipt of notice of such dishonor. The MBCO will provide the offending licensee written notice that the licensee has ten (10) days from the date the notice is mailed to honor the check it issued. Pursuant to section 445(b), unless the licensee honors the check within ten (10) days of the mailing date of the notice, the MBCO will turn the matter over to the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. [47 P.S. §§ 4-445(b), 4-493(26), 4-496].
Licensee Record Keeping
Effective February 20, 2012, a licensee is only required to maintain, on its licensed premises, business records for the most recent six (6) months, and may only remove those records from the licensed premises for “a lawful business purpose,” and must return those records after such business has been concluded. A licensee may maintain records off the licensed premises that are between six (6) months and two (2) years old, provided that such records are returned to the licensed premises within twenty-four (24) hours of a request by the Board or the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. [47 P.S. § 4-493(12)].
Licensee Vehicle Lettering
Effective immediately, the lettering on licensee vehicles which are used to transport liquor or malt or brewed beverages, identifying the licensee’s name, address and license number, may be no smaller than two (2) inches in height. Previously, such lettering was required to be no smaller than four (4) inches in height. [47 P.S. §§ 4-491(12), 4-492(9)].
Public Official Interests in Licenses
Effective February 20, 2012, provisions of the Liquor Code which prohibit certain public officials, who are responsible for enforcing “penal laws,” from holding an interest in a restaurant license, hotel license, manufacturer’s license, importing distributor’s license, distributor’s license, or eating place retail dispenser’s license, are further clarified. Specifically, public officials with arrest authority, including United States attorneys, state attorneys general, district attorneys, sheriffs and police officers, and anyone who can impose a criminal sentence, including magisterial district judges and judges, are prohibited from holding such licenses, unless the proposed licensed premises are located outside the official’s jurisdiction. It is further clarified that other public officials, who do not have any arrest authority or ability to impose a criminal sentence, including members of the General Assembly, township supervisors, city councilpersons and mayors without arrest authority, may hold such licenses. [47 P.S. §§ 4-401(a), 4-437(d)].