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New York’s remaining dry towns may see change in state laws

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  • Staff Report 

A new bill making its way through the New York Legislature could mark the end of an era for towns and villages with post-Prohibition bans on alcohol sales. Advanced out of a state Senate committee last week, the legislation aims to repeal a 1934 law that allowed municipalities to opt for a dry status, following the end of Prohibition. With only seven communities in New York fully banning alcohol sales, the bill’s proponents believe its passage will foster local business growth and provide convenience for residents wishing to enjoy alcoholic beverages at local establishments.

State Sen. James Skoufis, the bill’s sponsor, advocates for modernizing state alcohol laws, highlighting the bill as a step toward economic development and enhanced dining experiences in these dry communities. In places like Clymer, a town near the Pennsylvania border, local businesses anticipate significant benefits from the ability to serve alcohol, predicting increased profits and customer traffic. However, not all share this enthusiasm, with some local officials expressing concerns over state mandates and the potential for alcohol abuse.

The debate reflects a broader conversation on the balance between local autonomy and state intervention, as well as the social and economic impacts of alcohol sales. While some dry towns, such as Argyle, have recently voted to overturn their alcohol bans, others remain apprehensive about the change. As the bill progresses, its potential to transform the social fabric and business landscape of New York’s remaining dry towns remains a focal point of discussion, echoing broader trends in alcohol regulation across the United States.