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By in Latest News Comments Off on Accommodating Individuals With Assistance Animals in the Food Service Industry

Accommodating Individuals With Assistance Animals in the Food Service Industry

Photo Attribution: Jami430 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

“So a man and a dog walk into a bar…”  What might sound to some like the start of an old-fashioned bar joke is no laughing matter for those with disabilities or the businesses required to accommodate them.  Assistance animals are becoming increasingly common and may be referred to by varying terms, such as service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals.  The extent to which assistance animals are protected legally varies depending upon the animal’s purpose, species and training.  Unfortunately, navigating these legal protections can be challenging, and improper handling of requests by individuals with service animals can subject business owners to legal liability, as well as a potential public relations nightmare.

In the food service industry, which is held to health and cleanliness standards beyond those applicable to most other retailers, business owners might be tempted to assume they have greater latitude to refuse service to individuals who attempt to enter with service or support animals due to numerous restrictions imposed by state and local health codes.  This assumption is incorrect, however, and such refusals can have serious consequences.

The primary laws governing assistance animals for Pennsylvania businesses are a federal statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a state statute, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).  Business owners should also be sure to check to determine whether any local ordinances may apply.

Under the ADA, generally only dogs (and in some limited circumstances miniature horses) are recognized as service animals.  The ADA provides broad protections for service animals, and requires the following:

  • Businesses and organizations must permit service animals in all areas where the public is permitted.
  • Allergies and fears of service animals are not valid reasons to refuse access or service.
  • The ADA’s requirements supersede all state and local health codes – so restaurants and other food service providers may not refuse service or access on that basis.
  • Persons with service animals may not be treated differently from other patrons – e.g. isolated from other patrons, charged an additional fee, or in any manner treated less favorably than other patrons.
  • Service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless the person’s disability prevents such implements, in which case the service animal need only be under the person’s control, such as by voice commands or hand signals.
  • The only valid reasons a business may exclude a service animal are situations where the animal is not under the person’s control, the animal is dangerous or poses an immediate threat to others, or the animal is not housebroken. Even in situations such as these, the business may not simply eject the individual, but must offer alternatives for the person to obtain services – e.g. offering take-out or an opportunity for the person to return without the animal for service.

Under the ADA when evaluating only those situations where the service animal’s purpose is not obvious – businesses are limited to asking two questions of persons with service animals:

  1. Is the service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task does the animal perform?

Businesses may not inquire regarding the nature of the person’s disability, and may not require medical documentation or certification regarding the animal’s service status or abilities.  Business owners also may not require the person or animal to demonstrate any work or task.

To further complicate matters, the PHRA – which applies to all businesses with more than 4 employees operating in Pennsylvania – provides even broader coverage than the ADA.  The PHRA does not limit coverage to dogs and miniature horses – meaning that other species arguably are covered by the Act.  The PHRA also does not use the term “service animal” – instead using the more expansive phrase “guide or support animal” – which may include emotional support animals whose purpose is to provide generalized comfort to an individual with a disability, rather than being trained to provide a specific service.  The PHRA does recognize exceptions similar to those under the ADA with regard to refusing allow animals not under control or who pose a direct safety hazard.

The result of these differences is that while businesses may ask the ADA permitted questions above, in Pennsylvania they likely cannot legally refuse service to someone with an animal because the animal does not perform specific work or a specific task.

So how should a business respond to requests by patrons to enter a bar, restaurant, or other food-service establishment with a service or comfort animal?

First, given the overlap between the ADA and PHRA, business owners in Pennsylvania are in a gray area if they attempt to exclude all animals other than dogs and miniature horses on the basis that other species are not covered by the ADA – because there is no such exclusion under the PHRA.  Does that mean that someone can bring an emotional support pig into your restaurant?  Unfortunately, the answer is… maybe.

The business certainly may ask if the animal is required because of a disability.  If the answer is yes – provided the pig is under the person’s control, housebroken, and poses no clear threat to other patrons – it may be difficult to legally refuse the request.

Overall, given the current law in this area, businesses should exercise caution when handling service or comfort animal requests.  Staff should be trained to ensure they are not asking questions beyond those permitted by law and are not demanding documentation.  Moreover, given the potential for liability, decisions to refuse access should only be made by senior management.  In cases where the facts are unclear or if a business owner has any doubts, the best way to limit exposure is to consult with legal counsel.

This article was written by Charles Calkins and Christine Nentwig of CGA Law Firm, a preferred vendor of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. CGA Law Firm has an experienced team of PLCB attorneys available to licensees throughout Pennsylvania to answer questions regarding the new requirements and license suspension process, discuss the steps necessary to ensure compliance, and provide representation and counsel in resolving PLCB suspensions and citations. To reach CGA Law Firm, call (717) 848-4900.

*Any opinion expressed in the article is not to be construed as legal advice to any individual or entity.

This article has been republished from the October 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

 

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on House Liquor Control Committee Moves Flexible Pricing Repeal Bill; Three Other Bills

House Liquor Control Committee Moves Flexible Pricing Repeal Bill; Three Other Bills

The Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee moved HB 1512 with a 15-10 vote down party lines at a voting meeting held on September 19.

Sponsored by Rep. Jesse Topper, HB 1512 would repeal flexible pricing granted to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as part of Act 39. In a sponsorship memo, Rep. Topper wrote, “The PLCB championed flexible pricing as a way for the Board to more effectively negotiate with liquor suppliers, and to provide more revenue to the Commonwealth, while also using the new leverage flexible pricing provides the Board to lower the price of some products in State Stores. After seeing the impact of flexible pricing, I have not been convinced that this change has led to lower prices for the consumer, nor has the Board convincingly shown that this provision has provided our Commonwealth with increased revenues.”

The vote by the House Liquor Control Committee comes after the bill was the subject of two hearings earlier this year.

The committee also moved three other bills during its meeting.

HB 1048, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles would eliminate the $700 liquor license surcharge to fire companies and veteran organizations. Rep. Frank Burns attempted to amend the bill to eliminate the surcharge for all liquor licenses, but the amendment failed to receive a second and thus failed. However, Democratic Chair Dan Deasy said shortly afterwards that the proposed amendment is something that should be discussed for all licenses, but this bill dedicated to fire companies and veteran groups was not the place to do so.

Knowles original bill passed 25-0 to move out of committee.

HB 1542, sponsored by Rep. Stan Saylor, also passed 25-0. In a sponsorship memo earlier, Saylor wrote, “My legislation would allow any entity eligible for a special occasion permit to obtain that permit for nine consecutive or non-consecutive days throughout the year in addition to ten consecutive days. The purpose of my legislation is to allow the York County Agricultural Society, which owns the York fairgrounds and operates the York Fair, to obtain a special occasion permit for events held at the fairgrounds in addition to holding the permit for the duration of the Fair.”

The York County Agricultural Society is also a Member of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

Finally, the committee passed HB 1589, sponsored by Rep. Steve Samuelson. The vote was 25-0. This bill adjusts the operating hours for performing arts facilities to begin selling alcohol on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 10:00 am to better accommodate the various show times which often begin prior to 1:00. There are currently 95 active and pending Performing Arts Facility licensees statewide.

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

By in Latest News Comments Off on Run, Hide, Fight

Run, Hide, Fight

Advice for tavern and bar employees on how to respond to an active shooter incident

Minnesota Historical Society [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

We’ve all seen it play out on television. An active shooter walks into a concert, movie theater, or school while killing randomly. Bars too can be a target as we all witnesses in 2016 when 49 guests at a nightclub in Orlando lost their lives in a mass shooting, while another 53 were wounded.

Would you and your staff know what to do to protect yourselves and your patrons? If not, now may be a good time to sit down with your staff and start training.

If so, according to many experts, your training should begin by learning “Run, Hide, Fight.”

Run
The first option in an active shooter situation is always to run away, if possible. Getting away from the shooter is the top priority for you, your staff, and your patrons. And, as you run away, here are a few things to do:

  • Leave your belongings behind! Just get away as quickly as you can.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • As you are escaping, warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • When you are safe, call 911. Try to remember what the shooter looked like, where the shooting was, and what weapons are being used. This will help law enforcement.
  • If police are already on the scene, keep your hands visible and do everything they say to do.
  • When training your bar staff, go over all possible evacuation routes.

Hide
Maybe it’s too late to run. The gunman is getting closer, but unfortunately, you can’t get past him safely. Now is the time to protect yourself by getting out of the shooter’s view and staying very quiet. As you’re doing that, remember these tips:

  • Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
  • Don’t hide in groups. Spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter.
  • Try to communicate with police silently. Use text messages or social media to let law enforcement know where you are.
  • Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear. Then very carefully listen to the instructions of law enforcement.

Fight
With no other option left, you may have to fight to safe your life. At this point, you have to be committed for your own sake.  If you want to keep alive, you likely will have to act as aggressively as possible. These tips may keep you alive:

  • Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons. Items like bar stools, fire extinguishers, scissors, and various kitchen objects could be used.
  • Since likely it is a fight for your life, you may need to cause severe (or maybe lethal) injury to the shooter.

When training your bar staff, consider using materials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A number of useful training materials that can be downloaded or viewed online for free including a booklet titled “how to respond” to an active shooter at https://www.dhs.gov/publication/active-shooter-how-to-respond.

This story was republished from the September 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. For information on joining our Association, please send an email to pataverns@pataverns.com.

Preferred Vendor: Gettysburg Benefits Administration Inc

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on PLBTA Tip: Carding … Never Out Of Style

PLBTA Tip: Carding … Never Out Of Style

Back to school means it’s fake ID time too!

Soon college campuses will be full again. Classes will be in session. And football stadiums filled on Saturdays.

For businesses in a college town, it’s a blessing. With students returning (and parents visiting), local businesses can expect increased walk-in traffic.

For the local bars and taverns, it also means an increase in the number of fake IDs showing up. And these aren’t your father’s fake IDs. They’re much more convincing and significantly more difficult to detect than in the past.

There was a time when bouncers and servers had an easier time catching a fake ID. Years ago, they were likely made by a student working out of his dorm room using an instamatic camera and white card board.

Today, websites located in foreign countries have come close to perfecting any state driver license.

On one of the most popular fake ID websites (we won’t mention the name here as we don’t want to give it any publicity), underage students can purchase a fake ID using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. For a fake Pennsylvania ID the cost is $200 for two fake IDs plus a lifetime replacement. The student supplies a photo and regular information you’d find on any driver’s license via the website.

Shortly later, a package arrives via the campus mail to the student dorm room. Sometimes the package contains a stuffed animal, while other times the package may be a pair of shoes or another item. Regardless, somewhere in that item are the fake IDs. This technique makes it easier for foreign websites to get their packages past U.S. Customs and into the hands of underage students.

What makes these fake IDs difficult to catch is that they are scannable, making it tougher than ever before in detecting one.

So, what should a bar do to battle fake IDs? Consider the following:

  • Cops in Shops … while these fake IDs look very convincing, law enforcement have detected at least one fatal flaw (we won’t mention it in this article as we don’t want to tip off the bad guys). Work with local law enforcement to have an officer at your bar posing as a bouncer.
  • Dressed Officers … ask your local police to work with your bouncer at the door checking IDs. Bouncers are trained to give back all IDs, even if they’re fake. On the other hand, police will confiscate fake IDs, thus getting one off the street.
  • Flashlight Tip-off … shine a flashlight through the card. If the light comes through as a color, it’s fake.
  • Bend the card … fake IDs sometimes present a crease in the laminate.
  • Feel the card … fake IDs often feel smoother.
  • Trojan Horse … know who you’re hiring as your bouncer and servers. You don’t want the popular frat guy letting all of his brothers in regardless of age.
  • Scanners … use them, but also do a visual. Scanners will help you document the carding which may be useful later.
  • Tough questions … ask the owner of the ID card tough questions such as “what’s your zodiac sign” and “can you tell me the location where you got your driver’s license photo taken.”
  • Student ID … ask if they also have their student ID with them and if you can see it too.
  • Bouncer coalition … work with other establishments in your area to get the bouncers to talk to one another so that everyone knows what the others are seeing. Often times trends develop such as seeing a number of licenses coming from certain states.

It’s typically recommended to card anyone who looks younger than 35. Some establishments card everyone as a matter of policy. If you do that, and a fake ID accidently gets by, you’ll have some protection. Pennsylvania liquor code states that no penalty shall be imposed against a licensee or its employee for serving alcohol to a minor if it is established to the satisfaction of an administrative law judge that (1) the minor was required to produce an acceptable for of identification; and (2) either (a) the minor completed and signed a declaration of age card, (b) a photograph, photocopy, or other visual or video presentation was made, or (c) the identification was scanned by a transaction scan device and found to be valid; and (3) these documents were relied upon in good faith.

As such, it’s also best that a licensee document the carding of each customer and retain that information for two years.

The above article was republished from the Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

By in Latest News Comments Off on PLCB Now Accepting Sealed Bids for Ninth Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses

PLCB Now Accepting Sealed Bids for Ninth Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) recently issued an invitation for bids to award 25 expired restaurant licenses in the ninth license auction since Act 39 became effective in August 2016.

This auction includes one license in each of the following 25 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Clearfield, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Pike, Somerset, Warren, Wayne, and Westmoreland.

Bids for this restaurant license auction are due by noon Monday, Sept. 16. The ninth auction will again use a sealed bid process, which has so far resulted in winning bids on 257 licenses offered in previous auctions. Bids will be opened Thursday, Sept. 19, and auction winners will be determined soon thereafter.

The minimum bid for each license is $25,000, and each bid must be accompanied by a bid surety of $5,000 or 5 percent of the total bid amount – whichever is higher – to avoid frivolous and underfunded bids.

The highest responsive bidder for each license will win the right to submit an application for the license to the PLCB within six months of auction award. If bid payment is not received within two weeks of auction award, the second-highest bidder will have the opportunity to apply for the license. Bids will be held in escrow by the PLCB, pending approval of the license application.

Bidders with questions regarding this invitation for bids must submit inquiries via email to RA-LBLicenseAuction@pa.gov by noon Friday, Aug. 16. Questions and answers will be posted to the Department of General Services e-marketplace website by 3:00 PM Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Lists of winning bids from each of the eight previous auctions are available on the license auction page of the PLCB website. Auction revenue recognized thus far from all previous auctions totals $27.2 million, while another $3.1 million remains in escrow, pending license approvals.

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling $16.5 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visit lcb.pa.gov.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in With Rep. Dan Deasy

Harrisburg Check-in With Rep. Dan Deasy

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Rep. Dan Deasy recently to learn more about his perspective on the liquor industry, including Act 39 and the current political landscape. Rep. Deasy is Democratic Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee. He serves the 27th District including part of Allegheny County.

 

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for public office?
DD: I would say that the real motivator for me to run for office was the opportunity to make a difference in my community.  I began my elected career as a Pittsburgh Councilman and was very involved in many issues at the time.  It seemed a natural step to expand those opportunities at the state level.

PLBTA: What makes you particularly interested in chairing the House Liquor Control Committee?
DD: Right away I knew that becoming the Democratic Chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee would allow me to work on issues that have been important to me.  I have a strong background in labor and generally speaking the dynamics of the committee are diverse but collaborative and I really felt we could work together to get things done.  Liquor is an evolving business which addresses a multitude of issues from small businesses, labor, and consumer convenience. It’s not a stagnant industry but one that is constantly changing as demand for the product changes.

PLBTA: Our members are mostly mom and pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next.  Do you every worry about small businesses going away?
DD: Absolutely, many of our caucuses’ efforts to prevent privatization are geared towards protecting small businesses.  Once big box stores are the main retailer of alcohol, we can pretty much forecast the demise of independently owned alcohol retail establishment.  I recognize that taverns are more than just a place to grab a drink, they are often the social hub of a neighborhood/community.  They are a place to step away from the daily grind and relax. I don’t want to see them be the next small business closed.

PLBTA: Do you have an agenda for the Liquor Control Committee this legislative session? Are there issues that concern you with the system today, or that you see as needing change to make the system more workable or efficient for those in the industry and for consumers?
DD: This is a unique year and we have many new members on the committee this session, from both sides of the aisle, so first we must make sure that everyone not only understands the substantive changes realized by Act 39 but also take an in-depth look at the impact of any new legislation could have on the industry as a whole. I would like to see the committee move legislation that would strike a balance to providing consumers with the convenience they are requesting without sacrificing the controls that we have in our current system.

PLBTA: Passage of Act 39 forced many changes in the retail liquor industry, with unintended consequences for many licenses.  Taverns are facing more competition than ever before. Do you anticipate the Liquor Control Committee looking at the impacts of Act 39, and making any changes to help level the playing field for all licensees?
DD: I believe it is very important to work with our stakeholders, like the Tavern Association, to address problems/concerns they are facing. The impacts of Act 39 are still being realized and I am committed to helping correct any problems that may have inadvertently been created.  Keeping an open dialogue so we can move forward to address everyone’s concerns is the only way to have positive change.

PLBTA: One result of Act 39 has been delays in timely beer deliveries due to the expansion and universal availability of beer at large retailers and convenience store, which were not in the beer business prior to the Act.  At times, bar owners find themselves out of supplies, but current law doesn’t allow tavern owners to pick up beer when they are short through no fault of their own. Would you support legislation that would allow tavern owners to pick up limited amounts of brewed and malt beverages when they run out.
DD: While grocery and convenience stores have been licensed to sell beer since the early 2000s, the changes in the way people shop have definitely expanded the number of these outlets choosing to acquire licenses.  I can see how the increased number of retail outlets which focus on “take-out” beer can impact bars and taverns.  I would support taking a look at expanding the delivery/pick-up options available for licenses in a manner that would still preserve the three-tier system.

PLBTA: Bar owners often pay servers and bartenders through the wage-tip structure that guarantees minimum wage through a combination of a tavern hourly wage and tips. They often can make more… $15, $20, $25 per hour. This structure helps the small business and the employee. Gov Wolf wants to change the minimum wage rules, possibly going as high as $15 /hour and setting tipped minimum wages at 75% of the overall minimum.  Some worry that patrons will feel tipping is not necessary due to a higher wage.  If this were to happen, it may actually cause servers and bartenders to make less.  How do you feel about the wage-tipped wage structure?
DD: The minimum wage issue has many factors which complicate the issue and I believe it is imperative that we take into consideration what a livable wage means. In a way it may be a good thing that something wasn’t hurriedly done to beat a budget deadline which would negatively impact certain pay structures. We must certainly look out for those trying to support and sustain their family all the while balancing the challenges of certain industries. The wages tip structure has worked well for many workers and I would like to see us try to maintain that system while also addresses other inadequacies.

PLBTA: Everyone has their favorite ba, or tavern. These establishments can be great places to gather with friends. Without specifically naming your favorite, what make it so special that you keep going back?  What stands out about it?
DD: I actually have a few favorite local establishments. This time of year I like to enjoy being outdoors, enjoying a cocktail so that is a big plus for me. I also look forward to going out anywhere and not having a discussion about politics. This is very important to me because that dominates most of my time and it’s nice to get away from that from time to time.

The above Q&A was republished from the August edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

 

 

 

By in Latest News, Uncategorized Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in with Sen. Pat Stefano

Harrisburg Check-in with Sen. Pat Stefano

Sen. Pat Stefano

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Sen. Pat. Stefano recently to learn more about his perspective on the liquor industry, including Act 39 and the current political landscape. Sen. Stefano is chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. He serves the 32nd District including Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties.

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for public office?
PS: As the owner of a small business, I’m the 3rd generation of my family’s printing company, I have been involved in my community and involved in groups like our local Chamber of Commerce and NFIB for many years. In those groups we followed our legislators’ votes on issues that were important to small businesses. I would send my letters on important issues and get form letters back. It became clear to me that my representation wasn’t actually listening to me. I was brought up that as a small business we should always give back to our communities and when this opportunity came I saw it as a perfect opportunity to give back to the community which has been so good to me and my family.

PLBTA: What made you particularly interested in chairing the Senate Law & Justice Committee?
PS: Alcohol policy is a place where I think the interests of small businesses really comes up against the government. Alcohol is a regulated industry and an industry that we rely on to provide us nearly 1 billion dollars in tax revenue. I wanted to ensure that our regulations and the management of our Liquor Control Board is being done in a way that is conducive to small businesses being able to flourish. As a senator from a rural district I am also very concerned about access and providing the service that our constituents expect. I also am extremely concerned about police matters and how it relates to our commonwealth, particularly in rural areas.

PLBTA: Our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about small businesses going away?
PS: I do and I don’t. Of course, I see the trend towards national chains and am concerned that they spell the end of small businesses. However, I am a firm believer in the entrepreneurial spirit. I think that our small businesses are adapting to this trend and can provide the personal service and quality product that can overcome the trend towards national chains.

PLBTA: Do you have an agenda for the Law & Justice Committee this legislative session? Are there issues that you see as needing change in the system to make it more workable or efficient?
PS: I think that we need to ensure that the sectors of the alcohol industry have parity. We have seen tremendous success with the expansion of wine and beer and I think the next logical step is to look towards creating convenience for our spirits products as well. In the same sense I want to ensure that our PA based small businesses, who employs thousands in our commonwealth, are given the tools and flexibility they need to thrive.

PLBTA: Passage of Act 39 forced many changes in the retail liquor industry, with unintended consequences for many licensees.  Taverns are facing more competition than ever before.  Do you anticipate the Law & Justice Committee looking at the impacts of Act 39, and making any changes to help level the playing field for all licensees?
PS: One of the things I have learned about this area of the law is that when you change one thing it effects everyone in the industry. I am interested in hearing more about these concerns and working with licensees to either understand the intent of the law if it is something that does not have the necessary support to be changed and looking at ways to improve the overall business climate for all licensees.

PLBTA: One result of Act 39 has been delays in timely beer deliveries due to the expansion and universal availability of beer at large retailers and convenience stores, which were not in the beer business prior to the Act.  At times, bar owners find themselves out of supplies, but current law doesn’t allow tavern owners to pick up beer when they are short through no fault of their own.  Would you support legislation that would allow tavern owners to pick up limited amounts of brewed and malt beverages when they run out?
PS: I have been hearing a lot about the changes in the franchise law and understand that different areas are experiencing this law in different ways. I am interested in looking into this concept while ensuring that the products that are available to our consumers are the freshest and safest products available.

PLBTA: Bar owners often pay servers and bartenders through the wage-tip structure that guarantees minimum wage through a combination of a tavern hourly wage and tips. They often can make more … $15, $20, $25 per hour. This structure helps the small business and the employee. Governor Wolf wants to change minimum wage rules, possibly going as high as $15/hour and setting tipped minimum wages at 75% of the overall minimum.  Some worry that patrons will feel tipping is not necessary due to a higher wage. If this were to happen, it may actually cause servers and bartenders to make less. How do you feel about the wage-tip structure?
PS: I think the discussion around minimum wage is made to seem so simple. People need to make more therefore we should raise the wage and it will just happen. Unfortunately, if a large jump in the wage would occur it could have long ranging unintended consequences ranging from layoffs, to increase consumer prices to the scenario that you lay out in your question. That is why I wish the federal government would be leading the way on this so that all states were operating on the same level. I think this discussion needs to be handled with great caution and any changes need to be incremental and over time to allow everyone to adjust properly.

PLBTA: Everyone has their favorite restaurant, bar, or tavern. These establishments can be great places to gather with friends and family. Without specifically naming your favorite, what makes it so special that you keep going back? What stands out about it?
PS: I think these local establishments build a sense of togetherness and help make our communities stronger. These employees and business owners don’t just work in our community, they are a part of it. Anytime I’m at a youth sporting event chances are there are a few teams sponsored by a restaurant, bar or tavern. When I go to our community theater or a fundraiser for a nonprofit, you have ads in the program or are donating food or beverages. You usually are the first to be asked to support something and the first to step up and do so. I really prefer to support those kinds of establishments. Not to mention, the wings at my favorite establishment can’t be beat.

 

The above Q&A was republished from the July edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Pennsylvania Skill Responds to PLCB Email, Threatens Lawsuit

Pennsylvania Skill Responds to PLCB Email, Threatens Lawsuit

Almost as quickly as the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board issued an email to licensees concerning the legality of skill games, industry representatives responded back, demanding a retraction or face a lawsuit.

In a Pennsylvania Skill letter as a response to the PLCB email, Lou Miele wrote to operators, “This notice is DEAD Wrong with regard to Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices and we will be taking appropriate legal actions against the PLCB to correct the record.”

The full letter reads …

Dear Operators,

As you may be aware, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) released a factually inaccurate email regarding skill games this morning. This notice is DEAD WRONG with regard to Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices and we will be taking appropriate legal actions against the PLCB to correct the record. Click here to read a letter our attorney Matt Haverstick, Esq. sent to the PLCB’s legal counsel.

Furthermore, the PLCB confirmed that they WILL NOT be suspending licenses.

Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices are legal and have been adjudicated by a Court of Common Pleas in Beaver County. Our legal status will not change unless there is another legal decision or the law is changed. As you are aware, our efforts have been ongoing as we work with state legislators to further regulate our industry and cement Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill’s legal status.

If the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Lottery or the PLCB harass you or your customers, state that you must remove of your Pace-O-Matic Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices or attempt to confiscate them, please contact the Compliance Team immediately by clicking here or calling 570-244-3123, ext. 5.

Pace-O-Matic and Miele Manufacturing stand behind our product and we stand 100% with you in protecting the Pennsylvania Skill market. We have retained top attorneys and they are on stand-by, ready to defend our devices at a moment’s notice. We would encourage you to share this email with your customers.

For the record, the PLCB’s email is correct with regard to illegal gambling devices in the marketplace that are masquerading as skill games. These devices should be removed. These gambling machines are illegal and they may be putting you or your customer’s liquor license at risk by having them in your establishments.

Thank you,

Lou Miele

Part of the letter sent to the PLCB from Mr. Haverstick of Kleinbard reads, “If you do not immediately correct your libelous assertion as to Pennsylvania Skill games, we will sue PLCB to force the retraction.”

The email from the PLCB and these communications from Pennsylvania Skill comes only days after a hearing held in Harrisburg in front of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee on the issue. To read a story covering testimony from both sides, click here for a PennLive story.

 

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Skill Games: PLCB sends email to licensees

Skill Games: PLCB sends email to licensees

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has sent licensees an email on June 12. The email concerns skills games.

The following is a copy of the email …

Subject: LCB notice to licensees re: skill games

Attention Licensee:

In light of recent news coverage regarding illegal gambling devices – games of skill popping up at bars, restaurants, convenience stores and other venues where players pay cash to play a game for a chance of winning cash prizes – the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board wanted to bring this matter to your attention as a retail liquor licensee.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Lottery, skill games are illegal in the commonwealth. As such, possessing or operating one or more of these machines on your licensed premises may be grounds for the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to issue a citation against your license. While the PLCB cannot provide you with legal guidance as to whether a particular gaming machine is illegal, citations put your license at risk, both through the citation process and upon application for renewal to the PLCB.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board | Bureau of Licensing
Email: ra-lblicensing@pa.gov
lcb.pa.gov

This email comes two days after a three-hour hearing by the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee on skill games. During the hearing, testimony was given by those who view them as legal and by those who believe skill games are illegal. To read a story from PennLive on the hearing, click here.

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle

Harrisburg Check-in with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle recently to learn more about his perspective on the liquor industry, including Act 39 and the current political landscape ass the chair of the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee. He is also a Republican who serves District 60 (including parts of Armstrong, Butler, and Indiana counties).

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for a public position?
JP: I thought I could improve the lives of the people who lived here, and will keep trying.

PLBTA: What made you particularly interested in chairing the House Liquor Control Committee?
JP: It was the best of what was offered to me, and I felt that I had experience that would translate well.

PLBTA: Our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about small businesses going away?
JP: I worry about small businesses not being able to adapt to changing markets. If all those old businesses cited faded away because they did the same things over and over, that should be a lesson to us all.

PLBTA: Do you have a Committee agenda for this legislative session? Are there issues that you see as needing change in the system to make it more workable or efficient?
JP: Act 39 was a profound change in how PA buys its beer. With the act, being so new, there have been unintended consequences. Dealing with those unintended consequences is my agenda. We deal with those as they arise, and frequently, they come from business. We are always open to listening and to trying to fix problems.  What people need to realize is that Act 39 is not going away. It is not productive to just snipe at Act 39 all the time. Give us solutions that you need. That is where we come in.

PLBTA: Passage of Act 39 forced many changes in the retail liquor industry, with unintended consequences for many licensees. Taverns are facing more competition than ever before. Do you anticipate the Liquor Control Committee looking at the impacts of that legislation and making changes to help level the playing field for all licensees?
JP: Again, Act 39 is not going away, and we keep an open-door policy for anyone in the liquor business. If they have specific solutions other than “Act 39 sucks,” I am willing to listen.

PLBTA: One result of Act 39 has been delays in timely beer deliveries due to the expansion and universal availability of beer at large retailers and convenience stores, which were not in the beer business prior to the Act. At times, bar owners find themselves out of supplies, but current law doesn’t allow tavern owners to pick up beer when they are short through no fault of their own. Would you support legislation that would allow tavern owners to pick up limited amounts of brewed and malt beverages when they run out?
JP: Yes, I would, and in fact, that is a piece of legislation that we are currently developing. It is because of issues like this that it is good to have an open relationship with the Tavern Association because this idea came directly from them.

PLBTA: Bar owners often pay servers and bartenders through the wage-tip structure that guarantees minimum wage through a combination of a tavern hourly wage and tips. They often can make more … $15, $20, $25 per hour. This structure helps the small business and the employee. Governor Wolf wants to change minimum wage rules, possibly going as high as $15/hour. Some worry that patrons will feel tipping is not necessary due to a higher wage. If this were to happen, it may actually cause servers and bartenders to make less. How do you feel about the wage-tip structure?
JP: I am fine with how wages and tips are structured. Increasing the minimum wage will have a devastating effect on tavern owners. I will not be voting for a raise in the minimum wage.

PLBTA: Everyone has their favorite restaurant, bar, or tavern. These establishments can be great places to gather with friends and family. Without specifically naming your favorite, what makes it so special that you keep going back? What stands out about it?
JP: Food, friends, and atmosphere is what keeps me going back to my local bars and taverns.

The above Q&A was republished from the June 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.