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Trib editorial: The PLCB's 'eating place' crackdown

| Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Rich Rosella of Allegheny Township, who runs the 6 Pack and Doghouse on Pittsburgh Street in Cheswick, re-stocks a bottle of beer at his store. 
Bill Shirley  |  For The Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Rich Rosella of Allegheny Township, who runs the 6 Pack and Doghouse on Pittsburgh Street in Cheswick, re-stocks a bottle of beer at his store. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch

The state's recent “convenience” reforms have brought beer and wine sales to some grocery stores and gas stations, more beer-packaging options and a crazy quilt of rules and limitations for customers and retailers to navigate. Now, with its archaic wine-and-spirits monopoly remaining, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is cracking down on some licensees.

At issue are “eating place” license requirements for food, seating and place settings. Beginning in January, the PLCB — using authority granted by state Act 44 of 2017 to suspend such licenses immediately (when complaints lead to citations) — plans a crackdown on Philadelphia “Stop-n-Go” shops selling bottled beer under such licenses without meeting food or seating requirements.

Some Pittsburgh-area establishments are ensuring compliance by stocking canned soup, ramen noodles, or frozen hot dogs and buns, plus plastic utensils. That shows how farcical Pennsylvania's “convenience” push is for both customers and proprietors, and how this new PLCB enforcement authority is a step in the wrong direction.

True convenience would mean no nanny-state monopoly that's conflicted between enforcement and raising revenue, telling Pennsylvanians what alcoholic beverages they can and can't buy, and when, where and from whom they can do so. Lawmakers should be reducing the PLCB's influence and authority — not broadening both.

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