PA House passes Benham bill to increase public safety in nighttime economies

Bill would create grant program, streamline reporting of underage drinking

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – State Rep. Jessica Benham’s bill that would create a grant program to help municipalities oversaturated with liquor licenses deter related crime, as well as simplify the state’s reporting process for underage drinking, passed the Pennsylvania House today.

“This bill would have a powerful, positive impact on public safety and local economies,” Benham said. “Nightlife is an economic driver for communities across Pennsylvania, including in south Pittsburgh, but our local municipalities, chambers of commerce, hospitality organizations and organized community groups are left dealing with public safety issues that can arise when a significant number of people are concentrated together in one spot and drinking alcohol.

“Municipalities don’t have all the tools and resources they need to keep areas with nightlife safe, and I know that these problems are not unique to south Pittsburgh. Providing resources to local municipalities is essential to creating safe communities that allow these businesses to thrive. I strongly believe that a greater investment from the state is needed to support additional safety measures and technology like ID scanners, cameras and public panic buttons.”

Benham said that, in addition to creating a grant program funded by state liquor revenue, H.B. 1768 would also simplify the issuance of the Liquor Control Board’s Report on Underage and High Risk Drinking, allowing it to be incorporated into their annual report rather than it being a separate report.

“It may seem like a small change, but streamlining the Liquor Control Board’s report on underage drinking would unequivocally save tax dollars, allow us to get accurate information more quickly, and implement solutions more efficiently. Essentially, this provision cuts unnecessary red tape.”

Passing the House by a bipartisan vote of 110-93, the legislation is now headed to the state Senate for consideration.