ALTOONA, Pa., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- As a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, I love this commonwealth. My family has built our business here. We employ more than 7,800 Pennsylvania residents. We are proud of the contributions our family and our employees make every day in our communities.
However, as passionate as I am about Pennsylvania, I am appalled at some of the ridiculous laws still on the books. For example:
- If a "Restaurant" or "Eating Place" wants to sell beer or alcohol for take-home consumption, they also must allow customers to drink it on-site;
- You cannot buy beer at the same location where you buy gas. However, you can drive home from a beer distributor with a case of beer on your front seat;
- If you sell beer or alcohol, you cannot give away a free lunch, but you can give away complimentary food.
The rules are mind boggling, embarrassing and too restrictive. That's why Sheetz and other members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) support legislation proposed by State Senator John Rafferty to overhaul the state's outdated beer laws.
Senator Rafferty's responsible approach includes the following:
- "Carding" or electronic age verification for all sales;
- Maintaining the current number of licenses, but allowing supermarkets and convenience stores to purchase existing licenses;
- Beefing up enforcement of underage drinking laws;
- Allowing distributors to sell six-packs and 12-packs.
The bottom line is convenience. People of legal age who choose to buy beer will be able to do so in more convenient locations, as is the standard in 48 other states.
Of course, the distributors, who currently have a monopoly on beer sales, are opposed to most of this proposed legislation. I will give them credit. They are transparent in their reasoning. They claim this law change will "hurt their business." To them, consumers don't matter as long as they can keep their monopoly.
We believe no group should have a monopoly. Why should distributors be allowed to sell beer at inflated prices, when opening up the competition will lower prices? Why should beer cost several dollars per case more in Pennsylvania than it does in nearby states?
In 2006, the distributors claimed to be watching out for consumers when supporting a move to allow them to sell smaller quantities. At that time, David Shipula, president of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association, said, "It's unfair to Pennsylvania's consumers to pay high costs for a 12-pack at a tavern or delicatessen when, if permitted by law, their local beer distributor could provide the same package at a much lower price." Why then, is it fair for Pennsylvania consumers to be forced to pay higher prices at a distributor, if a grocery or convenience store could offer beer for less?
For years, consumers have overwhelmingly said, "Free My Beer!" We listened and that's why we are taking this stand. You also have a unique opportunity to make your voice heard. Before the May election, study the facts, and then ask your candidate where he or she stands on the issue. Sheetz and the PFMA stand ready to help. We have information available at www.sixpacktogo.org.
I invite you to visit and separate fact from fiction. We all will profit from that.
SOURCE Sheetz, Inc.