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April 22, 2024

The New York State Liquor Authority Announces the Expansion of Options for Businesses with Liquor Licenses in The Enacted FY2025 Budget

The New York State Liquor Authority Announces the Expansion of Options for Businesses with Liquor Licenses in The Enacted FY2025 Budget
As The Service Industry Continues to Recover, To-Go Drinks Are Extended and Outdoor Dining Is Made Permanent
Additional ABC Commission Recommendations In Place, Bringing More Opportunities for Small Businesses

With the enactment of the FY2025 Budget, the State Liquor Authority is highlighting significant changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. These measures will continue Governor Hochul’s goal of modernizing the state’s often-antiquated ABC laws by injecting common sense and collaboration into New York’s alcohol industry. 

 

“This 24-25 budget process is a successful one for our agency,” said State Liquor Authority Chair Lily Fan.  “It has been our long-standing intention to seek changes to our statute that would allow us to better support our applicants and licensees. We wholeheartedly thank the Governor, her team, and our partners in both Houses for approving and delivering this package of improvements that will help members of our industry operate better. We look forward to continuing to support the modernization effort in the future while ensuring public safety, health, and welfare.” 

 

Several proposals included in this year’s budget are recommendations from a report issued in May 2023 by the Commission to Study Reform of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Other items in the FY25 Enacted Budget address outdated statutes while enhancing the customer experience with more options to support a key cog in the State’s economy.

 

In the FY2023 Budget, Governor Hochul tasked the temporary Commission to Study Reform of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, 21-members comprised of state agency heads and a diverse set of industry stakeholders, with voting to recommend changes to modernize and simplify the state’s 90-year-old ABC Law. Their efforts resulted in 18 recommendations to be considered for future legislative changes by the New York State Legislature.

 

Governor Hochul signed two of those recommendations into law in October of 2023, while three more are included in this year’s Enacted Budget: 

 

  • Alcohol To-Go – A 5-year extension will allow for the current “drinks to go” provision to continue through 2030, with those 5 years commencing from 2025. 

     

  • Community Notification – Allows applicants to simultaneously apply for a license and notify their municipality, and provides the SLA will not act on the application for 30 days in order to allow time for municipal input in the licensing process.  

     

  • One-Day Event Permits – Expands one-day special event permits to allow for the service of liquor. These one-day permits were previously restricted to beer and wine. This change creates parity for New York craft beverage manufacturers, in addition to providing catering businesses more opportunities by expanding their offerings.  

     

  • Temporary Wholesaler Permits – Creates a new permit to allow for wholesale applicants to obtain a temporary permit while their license is pending, allowing these businesses to begin operations more expeditiously.

 

Other business and guest-friendly measures include:

 

  • Expanding Catering permits – The budget removes the requirement mandating catering permits be issued only for indoor functions or events, expanding opportunities for the hospitality industry and their customers. 

     

  • Wine/Liquor Stores at Street Level – The budget eliminates a Prohibition era law that required liquor stores to be located at street level in order to qualify for a license. 

     

  • Temporary Retail Permits  Extends the issuance of temporary retail permits to get businesses open and operating quickly.  

     

  • Allowing Liquor Beverage Sales in Movie Theaters – The Budget allows for the service of spirits, in addition to beer and wine, at movie theaters that do not meet the definition restaurants, which required a full kitchen with meals served to guests seated at tables.  Previously, movie theaters not operating as restaurants were limited to beer and wine only.  

     

  • Makes Outdoor Dining Permanent – The budget makes permanent the service of alcohol on contiguous and non-contiguous municipal space, with the authorization of the municipality and the SLA, in addition to addressing service across bike lanes, thereby eliminating statutory ambiguity. This highly successful pandemic-era policy provision was set to expire on July 5, 2025.

 

New York State Senator James Skoufis, Chair of the Investigations And Government Operations Committee said, "We should be doing everything in our legislative capacity to ensure small business owners get the support they need. Though there is much more work to do - and many important updates were dropped during negotiations - I am gratified to see positive and useful reforms to the antiquated ABC law included in the final state budget. Restaurants and taverns are critical to the fabric of our communities and their economic success has a wide-spreading effect, impacting communities as a whole. I look forward to working with them and the SLA’s leadership as we continue to modernize the statute for businesses and consumers alike."

 

New York State Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos said, "I commend the tireless efforts of the 21-member Commission and the diverse array of stakeholders involved in modernizing New York's longstanding alcoholic laws. Their dedication has resulted in a suite of recommendations poised to shape our state's future. With Governor Hochul's recent signing of key provisions into law, including the extension of Alcohol To-Go and the expansion of One-Day Event Permits, we're ushering in an era of innovation and opportunity for our hospitality industry. These reforms not only streamline processes but also promote business growth and enhance the customer experience. As we embrace these changes, let us continue to work collaboratively towards a vibrant and inclusive future for all."

 

New York State Senator Leroy Comrie, Chair of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. said, "I'm pleased to see so many common-sense policy changes enacted in the budget modernizing the State Liquor Authority and Alcoholic Beverage Control laws. After holding the first SLA public hearing in years, and hearing from industry leaders, I am proud that many of the desperately needed changes sought, will come to fruition and help to better serve the entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector, as well as the evolving consumer marketplace in New York. Many other measures are still needed to allow the SLA to optimize its efficiency and I am committed to working with Chair Fan to help deliver these measures." 

 

New York State Assemblymember Al Stirpe said, "Thank you to Governor Hochul and the SLA for recommending these changes that will bolster small businesses in our community and invigorate our economy throughout New York State. We're empowering licensed bars and restaurants to continue offering 'drinks to go' over the next five years, allowing movie theaters to serve alcoholic beverages, making outdoor dining permanent, permitting one-day events, as well as outdoor catering. I look forward to reviewing more recommendations from the Commission before the end of the session."

 

Brian Facquet, New York State Distillers Guild said, “Governor Hochul’s commitment to the modernization of antiquated SLA laws has been a welcomed shift in policy, which will benefit every tier in the three tier system. The One day event, which would allow sales by the glass at events like the NYS Fair, is another step towards parity with NYS Beer, Wine and Cider by allowing sales of cocktails at events like the NYS Fair.”

 

Scott Ramsey, Executive Director of the New York Cider Association said, "We are thrilled to see many of the recommendations made by the ABC Commission as part of the 2025 Budget. These are common sense measures that allow businesses to interact with consumers in a 2024 contemporary marketplace. New York Cider has grown into a $1.7 billion total economic impact industry annually and is directly tied to the agricultural landscape of NY State. These updates provide our growers and producers the opportunity to build their businesses in a meaningful way while expanding their contribution to the economy and local job markets. We are very appreciative of Governor Hochul, Chairwoman Lily Fan, and the entire NYSLA Team for working so diligently to understand the needs of small businesses and consumers all while maintaining the integrity and safety of NY State citizens."

 

Sonya del Peral, Founder of Nine Pin Ciderworks LLC said, “The inclusion of cider and spirits for one day event permits creates needed parity among all the farm beverage sectors and, significantly, provides small craft manufacturers with the opportunity to grow their businesses by meeting consumer demand. We applaud the Governor and her team and both chambers for supporting New York farms through this change.”

 

Scott Wexler, Executive Director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association said, "Cheers to Governor Hochul, the Assembly, and Senate for adopting a number of important changes to the alcoholic beverage control laws as part of this year's state budget. We're especially pleased to see the continued emphasis on eliminating delays in licensing with the extension of authority to issue temporary retail permits, creation of a temporary wholesale license, and the elimination of the 30-day waiting period to file a license after providing local notice. Liquor Authority Chair Fan and the dedicated staff of the Authority will be able to use these tools to make further reductions in licensing delays, opening business and putting people to work sooner." 

 

Melissa Fleischut, New York State Restaurant Association President and CEO said, “We thank Governor Hochul and the State Legislature for their leadership in securing meaningful change that will support the hospitality industry in New York State. As we all know, economic challenges persist. Measures included in the enacted budget, like streamlining and simplifying licensing issues, make a difference to small business owners across the state. Additionally, extending drinks to-go and making outdoor dining permanent are critical to expanding revenue streams amid a tumultuous financial outlook. We must continue to create opportunities to boost the economy and uplift the entire restaurant industry."

 

Andrew Rigie, NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director said, “We commend the Governor and Legislature for extending the popular “drinks to go” policy and for making a technical correction to the law, so restaurants may continue serving their customers a glass of wine or cocktail while they dine alfresco at restaurants participating in New York City’s new outdoor dining program. These policies are an excellent start to support the State Liquor Authority’s efforts to update New York’s liquor laws in a consumer and small business friendly way. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders this session to adopt more reforms that update New York’s liquor laws.” 

 

Heather Mulligan, President & CEO of The Business Council of New York State Inc. said, “The Business Council and many of our members thank Governor Hochul for officially signing into law updates to our state’s antiquated liquor laws. These changes will expand the opportunities for many businesses and provide more choices for consumers. We look forward to working with the legislature and the governor on future updates to promote even further economic opportunities for employers and choices for consumers.” 

 

Michael Correra, Metropolitan Package Store Association Executive Director said, "I want to commend Governor Hochul, the State Liquor Authority team and its collaboration with State Legislatve leaders for their work to address a number of significant changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws.  Our members' storefronts are located in every county and community across the Empire State, and are responsible for contributing 50,000 jobs. The work by our leaders in balancing the economic importance of these storefronts and jobs for New Yorkers is always so essential." 

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