Bill to provide relief to licensees and boost local economies headed to governor’s desk

SOUDERTON, Dec. 15 – State Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, today announced that his bill to address the challenges faced by liquor licensees and promote economic growth has passed the PA House and Senate and now awaits the governor’s approval.

"The passage of House Bill 1096 represents a significant step toward supporting our licensees and stimulating economic development," Malagari said. "This legislation provides a valuable opportunity for licensees to adapt to changing market conditions, while also addressing the shortage of restaurant licenses in our counties. It's a win-win situation that supports our local businesses and strengthens our communities."

Malagari said the primary objective of the legislation is to assist licensees in converting their outdated hotel licenses, enabling them to eliminate the burden of liquor licenses they no longer require. Simultaneously, the bill aims to address the shortage of restaurant licenses prevalent in various counties, which will promote economic growth and provide increased opportunities for entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector.

Malagari said the legislation would re-open the application window for hotel liquor license conversions and offer a much-needed opportunity for licensees to unburden themselves of licenses they no longer require.

Act 125, enacted by the General Assembly in 2020, initially allowed approximately 350 licensees to apply for the conversion of their hotel liquor licenses issued prior to 1949 to restaurant liquor licenses for a nominal fee of $30,000. The measure was designed to address the challenges faced by businesses unable to transfer their licenses when closing down due to the license being tied to a specific location.

However, unforeseen circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic prevented many licensees from meeting the application deadline. To provide necessary relief and support, Malagari's legislation seeks to reopen the original application window for hotels licensed prior to 1949. Additionally, the bill would introduce a second category of hotel licensees issued before 1965 that qualify for the room exemption, granting them the opportunity to apply for conversion during a specified time frame.

Malagari added that allowing licensees to convert their licenses gives them the flexibility to adapt their businesses to the changing market landscape. It encourages innovation and revitalization within the industry, allowing former hotel establishments to transform into new and thriving culinary destinations.

This bill will now proceed to the governor’s desk for his signature.