Lawmakers meet with local distillery owners to see how they can bring policy ideas to Harrisburg

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The alcohol industry is growing fast in Pennsylvania while bringing jobs and money. Law makers want to keep it that way.

This morning lawmakers met with local distillery owners to see how they can help or bring any policy ideas back to Harrisburg.

In 2015 there was only one distillery in Erie County. Now there are four and this is a trend that lawmakers want to see continue.

Lavery Brewing Company Owner Jason Lavery said that there is currently a bill they are trying to pass to level the playing field.

Lavery said that breweries in in the state right now have two options, you either self distribute or sign a contract with a wholesaler.

“Unfortunately in Pennsylvania it’s mandated that those contracts never have an expiration date. So if a brewery wants to move to another wholesaler to be more competitive that has more options to sell beer. Things breweries can’t do but a wholesaler can sell the breweries rights to another wholesaler without the breweries approval,” said Lavery.

Lavery said that the bill would make every brewery wholesaler relationship have a renewal term every five years. It also has a buyout option for the brewery.

The owner of Luminary Distillery said that he hopes this discussion will help businesses in the future.

“Antiquated rules and laws that the PLCB still has in place so these legislators are paving the way for making it possible for us to be successful,” said Joel Normand, Luminary Distillery Owner.

Recent legislation from State Representative Robert Matzi has brought more breweries to the state.

“And we have done some modernization over the course of the past four or five years that I think we even heard about today really helped and without that legislation maybe some of the breweries would not have come into fruition,” said Robert Matzi, Pennsylvania State Representative.

State Representative Bob Merski said that this industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy.

“So we want to do everything that we can to support that because as these come out they provide local flavor for our communities and they also provide local jobs and as we do that anything we can do to support local, supports the commonwealth as a whole,” said Bob Merski, Pennsylvania State Representative.

Merski said that there is one idea that he heard about during the discussion that he plans to take to Harrisburg.

Merski learned that in New Jersey they can sell their wines in local BYOB restaurants as a way to support their local breweries and wineries.

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