State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) and State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-Elmira) introduced legislation this month that would allow the State Liquor Authority to issue permits to on-premises liquor licensees to sell alcoholic beverages as early as 8:00 am Sunday morning. Under the provisions of the bill (A8617 – S6307), licensees would apply to the SLA for either an annual permit for all Sundays during the year or a per event permit for a specific Sunday or multiple Sundays. The Liquor Authority would decide whether to issue the permit and under what conditions after consulting with the local municipality and police similar to the existing process for issuing a liquor license.
The bill was prompted by a series of recent social and sporting events being held on Sunday before noon. It recognizes that the law prevents businesses in the hospitality industry from serving their customers’ requests for food and beverage services – and that there’s no good reason for that. The proposal is a modest change to existing law. Rather than changing the hours of sale for all on-premises licensees to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales, this approach provides the SLA with the discretion to permit it in appropriate settings and to prohibit it when it’s not in the public interest.
This proposal could get a boost when the State Liquor Authority’s ABC Law Working Group meets in January. The Group is expected to consider the topic of Sunday morning sales for on-premises licensees at its meeting next month. During a preliminary discussion of the issue, the only “concern” was expressed by the representative of New York City’s Community Boards. The bill’s requirement for consultation with the local municipality – which is the local Community Board in New York City – could address this concern. Support for Sunday morning sales as part of the Working Group’s Final Report would be very helpful advancing this initiative. This issue will heat up in 2016. So stay tuned for updates and for requests for you to support the cause.