Autumn: the season of crunchy leaves, sweater weather, and crisp, cool beverages. Great fanfare followed enactment of the so-called “Mimosa Law” in New York State that now allows us to brunch unfettered on Sundays mornings. However, other, perhaps less sexy, changes to New York’s antiquated Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Law will also bring welcome relief to the State’s craft manufacturers. One such change is the elimination of the requirement that craft manufacturing sales representatives be permitted and bonded.
Recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, statutory revisions to subsections 1 and 4 of Section 93 of the ABC Law alter the landscape of solicitor’s permits, which used to be required for anyone endeavoring to sell or solicit the purchase of alcoholic beverages in New York. They cost $26.00, were effective for one calendar year, and required the submission of a personal questionnaire and fingerprints by each permitted sales representative. Each sales representative also needed to be bonded. While the cost may have been modest, the permit filing, bonding and personal questionnaire requirements collectively amounted to an administrative burden with no discernable benefit to the State or the public.
As of November 6, 2016, however, a sales representative who works on behalf of a micro-brewery, farm brewery, farm cidery, farm winery, micro-farm winery, micro-distillery, micro-rectifier, or farm distillery does not need a solicitor’s permit to sell or solicit sales of alcoholic beverages in New York. By extension, the revisions remove the need for submission of personal questionnaires and fingerprints. Solicitors who do not work on behalf of one of the eight excepted entities listed above are still required to hold a solicitor’s permit and must follow the same procedures to obtain one, including payment of the annual permit fee. The bonding requirement, however, has been eliminated for all solicitors.
The revised statute also affects Section 93(4), which relates to manufacturers or wholesalers who apply for an annual temporary solicitor’s employment permit. Employees working as solicitors on a temporary basis under this permit are still only allowed to work sixty consecutive work days in that capacity. But, unlike the old statute that required the individual employee to apply for his or her own solicitor’s permit within the first thirty days of that sixty day period, the revised statute now gives the employee the full sixty days to apply for the individual solicitor’s permit.
Presumably, the amendment to Section 93(1) will require the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to rescind or revise Advisory #2015-10 (dated October 15, 2015), in which SLA modified its long standing prohibition on solicitors representing more than one manufacturer, by providing that solicitors may work on behalf of more than one craft manufacturer, so long as each one of the represented manufacturers consents to the plural representation. Written proof of that consent had to be approved by the SLA to grant a permit on which multiple licensees can be listed. Since craft manufacturing sales representatives will no longer require permits, there presumably will be no need to obtain SLA approval for multiple representations (although the manufacturers sharing solicitors may very well want to memorialize the terms of that multiple representation).
Revisions to the ABC Law such as these benefit consumers in unseen ways, but they have tangible effects on the producers of the myriad beverages whose existence we often take for granted. These legislative changes underscore the health of New York’s craft manufacturing industries and create an environment in which they can thrive. Now, the elimination of solicitor’s permit red tape makes it easier than ever to embrace the state’s diverse offerings. Glücklich Wiesn!