NY Legislators Push Bill to Protect Wine Retailers

May 12, 2015

A bipartisan group of New York state legislators are calling for passage of a bill that would "rein in" the State Liquor Authority.  A local liquor store is at the center of the story.

The bill came as a culmination of events involving Empire Wine — the Colonie liquor store sued the authority in September 2014 after being cited by the agency for illegally shipping wine to customers in states that prohibit the practice. Empire Wine did not deny shipping the product, but argued that the liquor authority cited the store under a "vague statute" and did not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

Credit wikipedia

On the heels of a key committee vote last week in the Assembly, Republican State Senator Phil Boyle and Democratic State Assemblyman Phil Steck joined sponsors and business advocates Tuesday at the capitol to call for passage of a bill that would limit the New York State Liquor Authority’s use of that “improper conduct” clause when a New York business isn’t granted access to due process.

Republican Senator George Amedore says it's hard enough to do business in New York.   "And between the heavy regulations, the high cost of everything from energy to insurance, the last thing we need is a state agency overrreaching and attempting to penalize a small local business for what they perceive is another state law."

Democratic Assemblywoman Pat Fahy says small business is the lifeblood of New York State and state agencies should be working toward helping those businesses grow.   "One of the areas that we've seen the most growth, and really so encouraging upstate is in the wine, spirits and cidery business. It's been great for farmers, it's been great for local businesses, and it's something that we want to continue to encourage."

Empire Wine CEO Brad Junco:"It's been quite the ride for us. It's a fantastic piece of legislation not only for the thousands of wine and spirit retailers in the state of New York, but also the producers of wine and spirits in the state. We are a distribution point for so many small vineyards throughout the state of New York that really have no other outlet with national distribution. So we're helping them, we're helping all the people that we employ, and we're thrilled by the support of this bill."

The State Liquor Authority did not return a call for comment in time for broadcast.