(The Center Square) — Pennsylvania’s liquor laws may loosen when it comes to some pre-pandemic rules on catering events.

Proposed legislation, House Bill 1160, would allow taverns, bars, and restaurants with a liquor license to cater an unlimited number of events. Current law grants licensees to cater up to 52 events annually.

“I really want you guys to join me in thanking and standing with those who are catering to our weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs, ongoing services,” Rep. Napoleon Nelson, D-Glenside, said during a Liquor Control Committee meeting last week. “So many of those really meaningful moments in our lives, these are the folks that help make that happen.”

The bill would also allow catering events to last for six hours instead of the current five-hour limit.

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Supporters argue that the expansion would keep licensees in charge of alcohol at events.

“After the event when it’s over, the leftover alcohol — it’s not sitting on the table and people are taking it home,” Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Pittsburgh, said. “The licensee is responsible, so it does bring in some accountability as well.”

Pennsylvania’s alcohol industry supports the bill.

“This important legislation …  is another piece of the puzzle to help family-owned taverns, bars, and licensed restaurants recover from lengthy Covid restrictions that financially damaged many establishments across the Keystone State,” Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, said in a press release.

Many licensees have struggled to regain economic stability since the pandemic, he argued.

“The past decade has been a financially difficult one for family-owned taverns, bars, and licensed restaurants,” Moran said. “First, the industry lost the exclusive right to sell six-packs to go, resulting in significant loss of revenue. This was followed by pandemic restrictions that closed indoor dining. Then recovery efforts were hampered by supply chain issues, inflation, and a lack of workers. Each of these have acted as a gut punch to drinking establishments statewide.”

The bill passed its first consideration in the Liquor Control Committee 21–0 and awaits further action.

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

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