Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Gov. Cuomo announces Alcohol Beverage Control law recommendations

Governor Cuomo today announced the final report and recommendations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group – a diverse group of alcoholic beverage industry experts assembled to review ways to modernize and simplify New York's 80-year old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. These changes will support continued growth in the craft beverage and agriculture industries which are key elements of "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.

"Working collaboratively with all stakeholders, this administration has taken important steps to cut red tape, roll back burdensome recommendations and help this industry continue to grow, thrive and create jobs in New York," Governor Cuomo said. "I thank the members of this group for their work and their recommendations on how to continue this progress and look forward to reviewing its findings."

Following the third Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, Governor Cuomo called for the modernization of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, noting that the statute, enacted in 1934 following the repeal of Prohibition, is outdated, confusing, and difficult for businesses to navigate. In November 2015, the Governor created this Working Group comprised of industry attorneys, craft manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, a Community Board representative and other industry experts to review the law and make recommendations on how best to modernize it.

Over four public meetings, the Working Group agreed to over a dozen recommendations to revise, consolidate and modernize the law, including:

    · Reorganizing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law: While a host of legislative improvements have been recently implemented, the Working Group found the overall statute remains a patchwork of laws organized by the beverage type, rather than by the type of license a business would need, leading to confusion and misinterpretation. The Working Group recommends a complete reorganization of the laws in a coherent, customer focused manner in order to better serve those regulated businesses. The report includes a proposed outline for reorganizing the statute.

    · Consolidating Licenses: There are currently nine separate licenses authorizing the sale of alcohol for on-premises businesses (restaurants, bars, taverns, etc.) scattered throughout three articles of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. The Working Group finds the current structure causes confusion and recommends amending the law to reduce the number of licenses to three: one for beer; a second for wine and beer; and a third for establishments that serve beer, wine and liquor. The proposed statutory change will clearly state the types of businesses eligible for a particular license, thereby simplifying the application process.

    · Modernizing New York's Blue Laws: The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law includes provisions strictly prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishments (restaurants, bars, taverns) from 4 a.m. until 12 noon on Sunday. The Working Group recommends two options regarding sales on Sunday; (1) amending the statewide hours from 12 noon to 8 a.m., or (2) creating a permit to allow on-premises licenses to serve before noon on Sunday.

    · Supporting 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 completely separate facility. However, businesses holding multiple licenses must still file paperwork and renewals for each separate license. The Working Group recommends combining craft manufacturing licenses into one application to reduce mandatory paperwork for these small businesses. In addition, the Working Group recommends authorizing wineries and farm wineries to allow customers to take home partially finished bottles of wine, reducing the fee and eliminating the mandatory bond for solicitor’s permits for craft manufacturers, and allowing wineries to sell wine in refillable growlers.

The Working Group's complete report can be found here.

Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $3.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan – attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest.

Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available