Legislative Tracker Updated

The 2017 New York State legislative session is well underway, and I have updated my state bill tracker to reflect wine-related legislation that is now pending. So far, the issues that seem likely to dominate state policy discourse are wage and hour regulations, e-commerce and the Empire Wine saga, the possibility of a gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes, and the sale of wine and beer in movie theaters. At the federal level, tax, immigration, international trade, agriculture, and labor and employment policy changes could have a significant impact on the wine industry. Stay tuned for (somewhat infrequent) updates.

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New License Categories for Custom Wine, Beer, and Cider Making Centers

If you’ve ever thought about making your own wine but don’t have the space, equipment, or even grapes to do so, this law’s for you. On Monday, November 14, Governor Cuomo signed legislation authorizing the establishment of custom beermakers’, cidermakers’, and winemakers’ centers (“custom centers”), where producers may “share space, equipment, and storage to produce quality beer, cider, and wine for home consumption.” Senate Bill 1227B (“S1227B”—same as Assembly Bill 1100B) creates a regulatory framework in which custom centers will operate. The law will go into effect on March 2, 2017[1]. Keep reading to learn about the key provisions of the law.

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Second Empire Wine Bill Vetoed

On Friday, November 4, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed Assembly Bill 10248 (“A10248,” same as Senate Bill 7728), a legislative measure that would have curtailed the State Liquor Authority’s jurisdiction over out-of-state activities.[1] A10248 was Assembly Member Phil Steck’s second attempt to clarify the conditions under which the State Liquor Authority (“NYSLA”) may punish a licensee or permittee for conduct that occurs outside of New York. A10248 and its predecessor, Assembly Bill 5920 (“A5920”), were precipitated by a long, bitter dispute between the State Liquor Authority (“NYSLA”) and Albany wine and liquor retailer Empire Wine (“Empire”). It is unclear at this point how NYSLA, Empire, and the Legislature will proceed.

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Cuomo Signs ABC Law Modernization Bill

On Wednesday, September 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation intended to modernize the State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law” or “ABCL”). Senate Bill 8140, often referred to as the “Brunch Bill,” implements the recommendations made by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Working Group (“Working Group”) in April 2016. The most talked-about provision took effect immediately and allows the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption before noon on Sundays—hence the legislation’s moniker—but boozy brunch is just one of many changes, most of which will take effect on November 6, 2016. Read on to learn more about these reforms.

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