ABC Law Review Commission Recommends Changes to Law

The Commission to Study Reform of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, created as part of last year’s state budget, released their recommendations for changing the law including allowing restaurants, taverns, bars, and other on-premises licensees to purchase limited amounts of wine and spirits from liquor stores. The Commission’s Report, issued on May 1, also makes several sensible recommendations for revising the licensing rules that will reduce barriers to entry to the hospitality industry for small businesses.

The proposal to allow on-premises retailers to make limited purchases from liquor stores is our top legislative priority since it addresses our concerns about liquor pricing and service from Empire and Southern. The Commission’s recommendation will be helpful in our efforts to advance the bill. The proposal had the support of several liquor representatives, although the representative of the Metropolitan Package Store Association voted no. Also voting against this recommendation were the lawyers representing Empire Merchants and Southern Glaser Wine & Spirits, the Beer Wholesalers Association, Anheuser-Busch, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the US.

The Commission also recommended several changes to make it easier to get through the licensing process, although I suspect most won’t find support in the legislature. They include:

  • allowing applicants to file prior to the 30-day notice period is up
  • allowing New York City applicants subject to the 500-foot law to be eligible for temporary permit after receiving a positive public interest recommendation
  • eliminating the 200-foot law
  • eliminating the 500-foot law

And the Commission also recommended authorizing All-Night Permits for weekend nights so they can be issued when New Year’s Eve falls on the weekend. In addition to those listed above, other recommendations for ABC reform include:

  • Expand liquor store hours from noon to 10 am
  • Allow liquor stores to sell additional items
  • Allow ownership of more than one (but not unlimited) liquor store
  • Change rules for granting liquor store licenses
  • Allow ownership changes prior to SLA approval

Now that the Commission’s work is complete it will be up to the Assembly, Senate, and the Governor to decide what to do with the recommendations since they are non-binding. If past history is any guide most of these recommendations will be tossed aside due to opposition from within the industry or opposition from legislators who are not interested in improving business conditions for the industry.


We’ve been laying the groundwork for allowing you to make purchases from liquor stores over the past few years. Now that it has the endorsement of the ABC Reform Commission we’ll seek to build on that momentum. With a late state budget and barely one month until the end of the legislative session, there’s no time to waste!