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Gov. Cuomo Visits Rochester, Announces Push to Modernize State’s Alcohol laws

By Staff


cuomo breweryGov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to advance legislation to modernize New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Three Heads Brewing company, in Rochester, May 18.

The legislation is a result of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group, which is a panel Gov. Cuomo created in November 2015, that was tasked with developing recommendations to modernize the laws governing the manufacturing, wholesale, and retail of alcoholic beverages throughout the state.

“New York’s investments in the craft beverage industry have driven growth, created hundreds of jobs, and unleashed a new optimism, and energy amongst wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries across the state,” the governor stated. “This new legislation will build on that progress by modernizing the state’s Blue Laws, cutting through the red tape, and removing artificial barriers to growth. The grand opening of Three Head’s Brewery in Rochester is a testament to our continued success, and I look forward to working together to keep the momentum moving forward in the years ahead.”

According to Cuomo, the new legislation will consolidate licensing and ease regulatory requirements for wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries in the state.

In addition, he said the legislation would also amend the ABC Law to include the following:

  • Expanded Sunday Sales: The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law includes provisions strictly prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishments (restaurants, bars, and taverns) before noon on Sundays. The governor’s legislation would create a permit to allow these licenses to serve between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
  • A Modernized Licensing Process: The ABC Law contains provisions, known as the “Two Hundred Foot Law,” prohibiting full liquor licenses to locations within two hundred feet of a building that is exclusively used as a school, or place of worship. The governor’s legislation would provide the State Liquor Authority with discretion to consider license applications for restaurants that fall within the Two Hundred Foot Law, provided the local municipality, in addition to the school or place of worship, are provided prior notice, and an opportunity to be heard on the application.
  • A Reduction in Paperwork for Craft Manufacturers: At the 2012 Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, the governor ended the SLA policy prohibiting multiple manufacturing licenses at the same location. According to the governor, the new legislation would combine craft manufacturing licenses into one application, in order to reduce burdensome paperwork for small businesses.
  • The Authorized 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 have been prohibited from filling growlers, according to the governor. The new legislation would enact a change to the law, allowing wineries to fill their customer’s growlers. Cuomo said the law would also allow wineries and farm wineries let customers take home partially finished bottles of wine.
  • A Reduction in 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. Cuomo said the legislation would reduce the fee for a solicitor’s permit, and eliminate the bond requirement.
  • Reduced Fees for Small Wholesalers: Under current law, small wholesalers must pay the same amount for their licenses as their larger counterparts, which ranges from $1,460 for a one-year beer license, to $27,280 for a three-year liquor wholesale license. The new legislation would amend the ABC Law to create a low-cost “importer’s license,” which would be available to wholesalers that sell only to other wholesalers.

According to Cuomo, he is calling on state legislators to pass the legislation now, because there are only five weeks left in the legislative session.

Visit to view the governor’s full announcement.

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