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2020 ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LAW UPDATE

By Pesetsky & Bookman PC

See the following update on some recent and proposed changes to NY's liquor laws that could impact members of The Alliance.

Robert and Max Bookman of Pesetsky & Bookman PC, the NYC Hospitality Alliance's General and Legislative Counsel and specialists in alcoholic beverage law, have the following update on some recent and proposed changes to New York's liquor laws that could impact members of The Alliance.
 
Using a Debit or Credit Card to Pay Alcohol Distributors (See below for update)
 
On-premises alcohol retailers will finally have the ability to pay their distributors with a debit or credit card.  Under current law, bars and restaurants may only pay distributors with cash, certified check, money order, electronic funds transfer, bank officer's check or draft, or check.  Under a new law that was signed by Governor Cuomo on December 27, distributors may now also accept credit and debit cards.  The card must be in the name of the entity that holds the liquor license, and the billing address must be the licensed premises.  In addition, distributors will be entitled to add a surcharge to cover credit and debit card company processing fees.  The rate of the surcharge will be standardized and set by SLA.  This positive reform will allow bars and restaurants to use modern forms of payment to purchase alcohol.  The law goes into effect later this year.
 
UPDATED AS OF 1/9/2020
Update on credit and debit card payments to alcohol wholesalers

Robert and Max Bookman of Pesetsky & Bookman PC, the NYC Hospitality Alliance's General and Legislative Counsel and specialists in alcoholic beverage law, have the following followup on last week's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law update.

We have some unfortunate news on the bill that would have allowed for credit and debit card payments to alcohol wholesalers. After the bill was passed, subsequent changes were agreed upon to exclude wine and spirits from the new law.

Therefore, the law will be pared back to only allow beer and cider wholesalers to accept credit and debit cards.  Wine and spirits wholesalers will not be permitted or required to accept credit and debit cards.  We are disappointed with this development, and expect that time will prove that allowing bars and restaurants to pay alcohol distributors with credit and debit cards makes good sense no matter what type of alcohol is being purchased. 

 
New Posting Requirements
 
In December, the legislature passed a bill requiring SLA to develop new notices that businesses must post after filing new liquor license applications and renewals of existing liquor licenses.  SLA has until later this year to develop the new notices and begin distributing them.  We will provide an update once SLA has developed the notices.
 
Governor Cuomo Proposes Three New Alcohol Reforms
 
Last week, the Governor announced three alcohol-related proposals that he is asking the state legislature to pass in 2020:
  • Moderately liberalizing New York's extremely strict tied-house laws.  This proposal will allow additional investment in the New York hospitality industry by companies that may have limited interests in alcohol manufacturers outside of New York State or the country.  Currently, if someone owns 1% of a winery in France, New York's tied-house law prohibits that person from owning or investing in a bar or restaurant in New York.  For years, the Alliance has advocated for reform of that rule, as investment dollars are hard to come by for many our industry
  • Finally relaxing the requirements for movie theaters to sell alcohol.  Most states, including bordering states like Massachusetts, allow alcohol consumption in movie theaters, but New York only allows it if the theater has a full kitchen and restaurant-level food menu, along with other onerous physical and operational criteria.  The Governor's proposal would do away with these requirements.  Adults holding tickets to movies rated PG-13 or higher would be permitted to purchase alcoholic beverages, provided only one drink could be sold to a customer at a time.  Movie theaters serving alcohol tend to carry local craft beers and wines, which will be a plus for the New York craft beer and wine industry.
  • Allowing culinary schools to have a single liquor license covering all of their operations, so that they can train the next generation of brewers and winemakers here in New York. It will allow the schools to manufacture limited quantities of alcohol, have an on-premises tasting room, and even sell the limited quantities they make.  A great reform for the next generation of our industry.
We will continue to update Alliance members on the status of these proposals as the 2020 legislative session proceeds.

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