Governor Proposes Drinks-to-Go, SLA Improvements

Governor Kathy Hochul proposed her Executive Budget last week outlining her priorities for the year ahead featuring initiatives to help restaurants, bars, and other small businesses. The Governor highlighted her proposal to permanently authorize drinks-to-go in her speech, declaring “cheers, New York,” demonstrating the special importance of this issue. The Governor’s drinks-to-go proposal would allow to-go sales of wine and spirits, in addition to beer and cider which is already permitted. The State Liquor Authority would be granted regulatory power to establish “reasonable limitations” such as quantity and volume, food required at time of purchase, hours of sale, and the sealing of open containers. The liquor store lobby has once again made known their strong opposition to this proposal, so we’re in for a fight but with the Governor taking the lead I like our chances. Watch your mail, email, and social media for more information on our campaign to pass drinks-to-go.

Governor Hochul also proposed several measures to improve the licensing and permitting process including allowing the SLA to notify local municipalities using email, streamlining the application process, and extending the law that allows for temporary permits. Most importantly, the Executive Budget proposes to allocate $2 million in additional funds to the Liquor Authority to support the licensing program. At the end of the day, the changes to the process are helpful, but it’s the appropriation of additional funds that will make a real impact on licensing delays.

The Executive Budget also included several proposals for small businesses including a tax credit for small business COVID-related expenses, small business tax relief, and a small business seed funding grant program. Other proposals of interest in the Executive Budget include making manufacturers responsible for disposing of the products they sell consumers and proposals to increase various Labor Law protections. Now that the Governor has proposed her Executive Budget, the Legislature will begin their review and consideration. We’ll be making our priorities known to the Governor and Legislature over the next few weeks and will be calling on you for help. Stay tuned!