Burns calls on PLCB to halt liquor license auctions

Says move will undercut family businesses still struggling from pandemic

EBENSBURG, Sept. 8 – In a move to support family businesses still struggling with the economic fallout from the pandemic, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today is calling on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to halt its plans to auction expired restaurant liquor licenses in 21 Pennsylvania counties.

“The pandemic and the governor’s shutdown hammered the restaurant and bar industry, many of whom continue to struggle and may be looking to sell their liquor licenses. By auctioning off these expired licenses, the PLCB is adding to the supply of licenses available and undercutting the value of licenses owned by families across the commonwealth,” Burns said. “In this time of extreme economic anxiety and uncertainty, I’m asking the PLCB to hold off – and pump the brakes on this auction.”

Burns has been standing up against the PLCB for small family-owned restaurants and bars for years – including fighting the agency all the way to the state Supreme Court for information. Burns asked the LCB for a listing of how many deactivated restaurant liquor licenses are available for auction in each county under Act 39 of 2016. The LCB denied Burns’ request, claiming the number of licenses was a “trade secret,” and that it was exempt from disclosure because it was part of internal deliberations of the agency.

Since then, Burns has remained focused on what drove him to seek the information in the first place – the plight of mom-and-pop businesses who have been undercut by the LCB’s license auctions, which he believes have devalued licenses in rural areas like Cambria County.

“The bureaucrats in Harrisburg may look at this as dollars and cents, or protecting prerogatives, but to me this is about families trying to keep food on the table and doing what is right by the people I represent,” Burns said. “That’s why I’m calling on the PLCB to halt this auction – so that the government doesn’t further harm family-owned businesses that are already struggling due to government action.”