Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein today announced an agreement on legislation to modernize New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. The agreement allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays, adds commonsense provisions to broaden retail sales by producers, and reduces burdensome fees for wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries statewide. The agreement builds upon Governor Cuomo’s sweeping actions to simplify regulations for the beverage industry, resulting in an unprecedented, three-fold increase in licensed wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries over the last five years.
The agreement will ensure the craft beverage industry in New York continues to thrive by amending the ABC Law to include the following:
- Expand Sunday Sales: The ABC Law includes provisions strictly prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishments (restaurants, bars, taverns) before noon on Sunday. The agreement expands Sunday sales at restaurants and bars by changing the statewide opening hours from noon to 10 am. In addition, the agreement enables these licensees to apply for a permit, limited to twelve per year, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays between 8 a.m. and the new 10 a.m. opening hour in areas outside New York City.
- Eliminate Burdensome Paperwork Requirements for Craft Manufacturers: At the 2012 Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, Governor Cuomo ended the State Liquor Authority’s policy prohibiting multiple manufacturing licenses at the same location, recognizing the additional burdens this placed, for example, on a small winery that wanted to also make whiskey – including building a separate facility. However, businesses holding multiple licenses must still file paperwork and renewals for each separate license. The agreement combines craft manufacturing licenses into one application to reduce burdensome paperwork for these small businesses.
- Authorize the Sale of Wine in Growlers: Current law requires that wine sold at retail for off-premises consumption be kept in their original sealed containers, and consequently, New York wineries are prohibited from filling growlers. This prohibition unduly burdens wineries that can open a container to sell wine for on-premises consumption, or can sell wine for off-premises consumption, but cannot fill a growler to be taken away from the winery. The agreement enacts a common sense change to the law to allow wineries to fill their customer’s growlers. In addition, the agreement authorizes wineries and farm wineries to allow customers to take home partially finished bottles of wine.
- Reduce Fees for Craft Beverage Salespeople: The ABC Law currently requires that any salesperson or solicitor employed by a manufacturer or wholesaler must obtain a solicitor’s permit in addition to a bond. Recognizing the financial hardship imposed by these unnecessary additional fees, the agreement eliminates the fee for a solicitor’s permit for craft manufacturers and removes the bond requirement for all manufacturers.
- Reduced Fees for Small Wholesalers: The primary business of most alcohol beverage wholesalers is selling their products to licensed retailers, such as bars, restaurants and liquor stores. However, there are currently a number of small wholesalers in New York that sell limited number of brands they import directly to large wholesalers for distribution to retailers. Under the current law, these small wholesalers must pay the same amount for their license as their larger counterparts, with costs ranging from $1,460 for a one year beer license to $27,280 for a three year liquor wholesale license. This financial burden often requires these small businesses to make a choice between continuing to hold a New York wholesale license or to relocate their business outside of New York. The agreement amends the ABC Law to create a low-cost “importer’s license” that would be available to wholesalers that sell only to other wholesalers.
- Authorize Gift Wrapping: The agreement allows liquor stores to sell gift wrapping and gift bags to their customers.