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What changes could be coming to liquor sales and licenses?

A commission comprised of 21 members, including 16 appointed voters, convened three times since August last year to evaluate and discuss potential reforms to New York’s alcoholic beverage control laws. The panel, which featured members from the wholesale, retail, bar, and restaurant sectors, released a report this week containing 18 recommendations for the state Legislature to consider.

Among the key suggestions was a proposal to amend a law that prohibits establishments from obtaining liquor licenses if they are situated within 200 feet of a school or place of worship, regardless of the organizations’ consent.

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The commission also recommended modernizing some outdated regulations, such as allowing liquor stores to open at 10 a.m. on Sundays, aligning with the operating hours of bars and restaurants. Paul Zuber, Business Council of New York State Executive Vice President and commission member, described the recommendations as “common sense updates” to antiquated rules.

The members debated some proposals, including permitting liquor store owners to hold multiple licenses. Ultimately, they decided to advance the recommendation in a limited form. New York State Restaurant Association President Melissa Fleischut stated that bars and restaurants welcome competition and are not concerned about potential rivalry.

While the commission did not endorse the idea of selling wine in grocery stores, Zuber believes that the state should not disregard possible revenue sources to protect small businesses such as liquor stores. He emphasized that allowing wine sales in grocery stores would be a significant economic development tool for wineries in Upstate and Long Island, catering to consumer demands. Zuber also noted that grocery stores could have been better represented on the commission.