Deasy outdoor dining legislation passes key vote

HARRISBURG, March 16 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny, that would remove barriers for outdoor dining at restaurants has been unanimously voted out of the state House Liquor Control Committee.

Deasy, the Democratic chair of the committee, said H.B. 452 would remove limitations concerning public thoroughfares, eliminate fees and reduce delays in approving outdoor seating to make it easier for licensed establishments and customers to take advantage of the option.

“Restaurants and bars have suffered greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic and outdoor dining is a way for many to sustain their business,” said Deasy. “Providing more flexibility would allow the restaurant industry to overcome obstacles they’ve faced in setting up outdoor dining, while still providing a safe environment for their customers.”

This legislation includes two amendments to further help the restaurant industry. The first would authorize the Liquor Control Board to allow an unlimited amount of off-site catered functions and remove the five-hour time limit for catering, which would expire one year after the COVID-19 Disaster Declaration ends. The other amendment would allow holders of liquor licenses that are in safekeeping a one-year reprieve from paying the license renewal or validation fee.

The legislation now moves to the full House for further consideration.

Deasy also voted Tuesday to support other legislation in the Liquor Control Committee that is part of a larger, holistic effort to help the restaurant and beverage industry. That includes:

  • H.B. 425 would allow a business with a liquor license that is permanently closing to sell its unused liquor and wine to another licensee.
  • H.B. 427 would increase the discount for eligible licensed restaurants, clubs and hotels from 10% to 15% when purchasing liquor from a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store.
  • H.B. 474, which Deasy authored, would create the Pennsylvania Distilled Spirits Industry Promotion Board. The governor and legislature would appoint members to the board and award $1 million in grants to promote and market the state’s craft distillery industry.

These bills were also unanimously voted out of the committee.