New York State: One Step Closer to ABC Reform

Governor Cuomo’s proposed bill to reform the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Code has officially passed the assembly as of Friday, June 17. The Senate previously passed the bill on Thursday, June 16, and it was delivered to the Assembly for approval. There it was substituted for Bill a10728 and passed by the Assembly. Since it has been passed by each house, it will now be certified and passed along to the governor’s desk for action. Presumably, since the governor advanced the bill himself, it will be signed into law and will become effective 60 days thereafter (other than certain sections).

What does this mean for New York State brewers?

Craft producers will no longer need to apply for solicitor’s permits for its salespeople in New York State, as the revised law will provide that no solicitor’s permit is required for an individual in order to solicit orders on behalf of a micro-brewery, farm brewery or farm cidery, among other craft manufacturers. But there’s good news for larger breweries, too—there will no longer be a bond requirement for solicitor’s permits for manufacturer entities that do not qualify as a farm brewery or microbrewery.

A combined craft manufacturing license will be available to licensees, combining the privileges of two or more farm or micro manufacturing licenses for use at one licensed premises. The license fees will remain the same (the sum of the current, separate licenses), but the administrative burden will be less, since craft manufacturers will only need to track and renew one license, rather than two or more.

Licensees who hold several manufacturing licenses will be cut some slack if sanctioned, as the new law will limit sanctions to the specific manufacturing activity that is prosecuted—so that a suspension imposed “shall only suspend the licensed activities related to the type of alcoholic beverage involved in the violation resulting in the suspension.”

The change that everyone—from retailers, to manufacturers, to consumers—may agree is good for all parts of the business is the change to the “Blue Laws.” If enacted, the new law will allow Sunday sales to begin at 10:00 a.m. instead of at noon. Additionally, in cities outside of New York City with a population of under one million, the law will afford on-premises licensees the ability to apply for special one-day permits to open their doors and serve alcohol starting at 8:00 a.m. up to 12 times per year. Earlier and longer opening hours create the opportunity for more beer sales—especially for sporting events that are broadcast live from Europe, South America and the like.

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Jackie Sudano