Skoufis introduces broad update to New York’s alcohol laws

By Published On: May 10th, 2023Categories: Capitol Notes

State Sen. James Skoufis is armed with new ammunition in his latest effort to update New York’s alcohol laws.

The Orange County Democrat introduced legislation on Tuesday that is informed by a state commission tasked with evaluating the state’s “blue laws” and made 18 policy recommendations in a report issued on May 1. The commission was convened last year at the behest of Gov. Kathy Hochul and Assembly Democrats, who wanted input from industry stakeholders before overhauling New York’s alcohol laws, according to Skoufis.

“I intend to go back to the governor’s office and the Assembly and my colleagues in the Senate and say, ‘Okay, here’s what we all have been waiting for. Now, let’s do it,'” Skoufis told The Capitol Pressroom.

The legislation would expand the hours liquor stores could be open on Sunday, changes the state standard for approving new retail licenses for off-premise consumption, updates fees for alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers, addresses temporary permits granted by the state Liquor Authority, and modifies certain distance restrictions for granting retail licenses for on-premise consumption.

The legislation does not address where certain types of alcohol can be sold, like allowing beer in liquor stores, as these proposal were rejected by the commission.

“The recommendations, if they’re implemented, would prove to be a meaningful step in the right direction,” Skoufis said. “Are they transformative? I wouldn’t go that far.”

“If we’re going to work within the current structure, and I would argue that perhaps maybe we shouldn’t, but if we’re going to do that, which is what (the commission) decided to do, then their recommendations would improve the structure,” he added.

The recommendations from the commission are backed by the Business Council of New York, New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association, New York City Hospitality Alliance, and New York State Restaurant Association.

“We urge the State Legislature to advance these 18 common-sense recommendations through the legislative process this year and continue to look at additional issues that will support different industry stakeholders and help spur economic development in New York State,” the group said in a statement.