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Potential changes coming to NYS liquor laws

A state commission recommended 18 changes to the state’s laws, including hours of operation for liquor stores.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators created a panel to review the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and offer suggestions for how to modernize those policies.

A series of recommendations from that board were released at the start of the month and indicate change could be coming for consumers and liquor stores across the state.

A 192-page report from the Commission to Study Reform of the Alcohol Beverage Control Law outlines 28 proposals to alter the state’s liquor laws, 18 of which were recommended to the state legislature earlier this month.

Among those recommendations are three suggestions that would have a notable impact on consumers, restaurants, and liquor store owners.

The first would allow liquor stores to start selling at 10 a.m. on Sundays — two hours earlier than the current regulations. Those hours would be in line with what restaurants can do, which was put in place seven years ago.

The second permits liquor store owners to own more than one retail location, and the third grants bars and restaurants the ability to purchase from a liquor store, especially if they run out on a given night.

“We didn't want to pick winners and losers,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association and a member of the commission. “We didn't want to say the grocery stores could do one thing that the liquor stores couldn't do. It doesn't really impact restaurants and bars, but for economic development reasons we got behind these proposals.”

None of these recommendations are binding and must be voted on by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. 

History has not been kind to these ABC recommendations in the past. The most recent studies were conducted in 2009 and 2016, and the majority of the 74 recommendations made between those two studies were rejected.

However, State Senator James Skoufis of Orange County has called these most recent suggestions a meaningful step in the state’s liquor laws and plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks with these recommendations. He hopes it will pass by the end of this legislative session on June 8.

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