Restaurants around New York were celebrating Wednesday after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in her address to state lawmakers that the state would reauthorize the sale of to-go drinks, which had been a popular revenue stream for the industry during the first year of the pandemic, but came to an end in June of last year.
And while the governor’s predecessor had been able to unilaterally make to-go cocktails a reality, Hochul needs legislative support and that could be a problem, based on the state legislature’s inability to codify this idea in 2021. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Westchester County Democrat, also underscored the uphill battle facing this proposition during an interview with The Capitol Pressroom scheduled to run on Friday.
“It’s a conversation that will be had … We will take the proposal seriously (and) try and and get to a good place,” said Stewart-Cousins, who acknowledged that to-go drinks had been popular in the past with New Yorkers and served as an important income source for struggling restaurants. She also highlighted the fact that there is opposition to the proposal, particularly from liquor stores.
Creating another potential hurdle for the measure is the fact that, based on the language in the state of the state book, the governor’s idea does not include farm distillers, cideries, meaderies, and breweries, according to a spokesman for craft beverage producers.
It’s also not clear when state lawmakers might consider advancing this statutory language, as it could move as standalone legislation this month or be part of a budget deal that would likely not be finished until the end of March at the earliest.
“It’s a legitimate policy conversation. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about it,” Stewart-Cousins said. “But again, I think that ultimately, we will, as we always have done, look at … if it benefits the state of New York, the people, the economy, and then we ultimately figure out how to do the right thing.”
Tune in to The Capitol Pressroom on Friday for the full conversation with the Senate Democratic leader.