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Know The Law September 2012: Legislative Update

Posted on  | September 13, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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Governor Cuomo has begun to review and sign the bills passed during the latest New York State legislative session. This article will review some of the new laws related to beverage alcohol and the New York Liquor Authority.

Administrative Authority Adjusted at SLA In a prior session, the legislature, in its wisdom, converted the members of the Authority from full time to per diem commissioners. In addition to sitting at full board meetings and deciding upon licensing issues, the members retained administrative authority over the agency.

Under the new law, issues related to licensing remain with the entire board, but administrative authority is transferred to the Chairman. This means that the Chairman has the power over budgetary and fiscal matters related to the Authority. In addition to presiding over the meetings of the Authority and within the limits of appropriations, he now has the power to appoint any necessary deputies, counsels, assistants, investors and other employees. He also has the power, subject to due process provisions and the civil service law, to remove any employee for cause.

In addition, the Chairman now has the authority to develop and establish minimum criteria for alcohol training awareness programs. The Administrative Authority Law is effective immediately and contains a sunset provision. Unless extended, it will be deemed automatically repealed after three years.

New Licensing Guidelines

The procedures related to obtaining on-premise licenses for restaurants, bottle clubs, brew pubs, taverns and bars which come under the 500 foot rule have been amended to give municipalities and community boards greater involvement in the process. Where there are already three or more on premises licenses within 500 feet of a proposed on-premise license, the Authority may issue a new on-premises license after consultation with the municipality or local community board, a 500 foot hearing and a finding that the issuance of such a license is in the public interest. Under the revised statute, unless the municipality or community board waives the time provision, the Authority is required to give the municipality or board 15 days’ notice of each proceeding as well as each adjourn. These provisions become effective 180 days after the bill was signed by the Governor.

Brew Pubs Reclassified

Restaurant brewers, commonly known as brew pubs, have been reclassified. Before the revision in the statute, brew pubs were wholesale licensees with a retail privilege. Consequently, any holder of a retail on- or off-premise license was prohibited from also owning a brew pub. Subsections 5, 8 and 10 of section 64-c have been amended so that the brew pub is now a retail license.

The holder of a brew pub license may now sell the beer it brews to a retail establishment owned by the licensee or to establishments with “commonly owned affiliate licenses.” Such a sale must be made through a beer wholesaler. Because subsection 12 of section 64-c was not amended, the holder of a brew pub license may obtain a wholesale license to sell its own beer. Except as provided in the statute, manufacturers and wholesalers may not be interested in a brew pub.

The prior restriction of 5,000 barrels per brew pub and 20,000 barrels total production has been modified. The statute now allows the holder of one or more brew pub licenses to produce an aggregate of no more than 20,000 barrels each year. The revisions to section 64-c are effective immediately.

More New Laws

Among other bills, Governor Cuomo also signed new laws which:

  • Authorize the Authority to issue temporary 24 hour permits to any holder of a license to manufacture wine in New York or any other state that does not make more than 150,000 gallons annually. This permit will allow the winery to sell wine at outdoor or indoor gatherings, functions, occasions or events;
  • Allow liquor and wine wholesalers to grant the same terms of sale for wine products as they do for liquor and wine;
  • Create a new Farm Brewery License with extensive privileges. Under the statute, a “Farm brewery” means and includes any place or premises, located on a farm in New York state, in which New York state labeled beer is manufactured, stored and sold, or any other place or premises in New York state in which New York state labeled beer is manufactured, stored and sold. No Farm Brewery may manufacture more than 60,000 finished barrels of beer annually.

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