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Pennsylvania liquor board waives nearly $28M in fees

October 28, 2020 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania liquor regulators on Wednesday waived nearly $28 million in 2021 fees for bars, restaurants, hotels and other retail licensees that have been hit hard by the pandemic and state-imposed restrictions.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved the relief measure less than a week after Gov. Tom Wolf announced it. Trade groups have said the fee waiver, while a start, would barely make a dent in their members’ staggering financial losses.

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A range of fees will be waived, varying from $30 to $700, the liquor board said. Another type of fee that allows for the preservation of an inactive license, which starts at $5,000 to $10,000 per year, will also be waived.

The board voted 2-1 to waive the fees.

Liquor Control Board officials had said in June they lack authority to reduce statutory license fees and surcharges without legislative action. But the board chairperson, Tim Holden, said in a written statement Wednesday that following a round of “due diligence in evaluating our authority to waive fees ... we believe it’s the right thing to do in support of our restaurants, bars, and gathering places.”

The dissenting member, Mike Negra, said that while he supports financial relief for bars and restaurants, the board was “legislating, rather than administering current law.”