Harrisburg, June 22, 2011— The state Senate yesterday unanimously approved Sen. Lisa M. Boscola’s proposal that would legally allow open containers and continue the “beer-to-go” tradition that has been part of Bethlehem’s Musikfest celebration for many years.

Under the omnibus amendment, which was incorporated into House Bill 148, licensed bars and taverns could legally sell beer-to-go to patrons during Musikfest and other city festivals.  Boscola said the city’s ordinance bans alcohol in open containers, but makes an exception for “functions or activity for which a special occasion permit has been issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.”

Pointing to a 1992 Northampton County open containers court ruling, state Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE) agents last year threatened to cite licensees.

“The beer-to-go tradition during Musikfest has dated back for more than 20 years,” Boscola said. “Local bars and taverns count on that revenue every year, especially since Musikfest cuts down on their regular business because of parking shortages during the celebration.

“The beer-to-go tradition had never been an issue or problem and I was disappointed by the LCE’s newfound and hard-line enforcement stance against these licensees. My legislation will clarify the legitimacy of this tradition once and for all.”

The bill, which also addresses liquor enforcement issues related to catering and happy hours, now returns to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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