Hochul signs bill overhauling New York’s liquor laws

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(The Center Square) — New Yorkers will be able to buy beer in supermarkets on Sundays under a bill signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, which updates the state’s antiquated alcoholic beverages law.

A package of bills signed by Hochul over the weekend eliminates a Prohibition-era law to allow for the sale of beer, mead, braggot and cider on any day of the week, including Sundays. It allows liquor and wine stores to expand Sunday hours.

The measure also extends the duration of a brewer’s valid license from one year to three years. It eases business regulations on craft beer brewers, which supporters say will help foster the industry’s continued growth.

Hochul said the new laws will modernize the sale of alcoholic beverages in the Empire State, help small-business owners and expand options for consumers.

“Across New York, breweries, distilleries and other alcoholic beverage businesses are creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity,” she said in a statement.

The state Legislature approved the measure to expand Sunday liquor sales in June, but the bill was sent by legislative leaders to Hochul last week.

New York State Brewers’ Association Executive Director Paul Leone said the raft of legislation eases regulations that have put the squeeze on the state’s craft beer brewers, holding back one of the largest craft industries in the nation.

“Extending brewery license renewals from one to three years eases yet one more administrative burden on breweries, and allows them to continue focusing on the one thing they do best: brewing world-class beer,” Leone said.

The New York Association of Convenience Stores also welcomed the changes to the state’s alcohol control laws, saying it will “advance consumer friendly but responsible policies.”

“The convenience store industry appreciates sensible updates to the law that provide adult consumers with safe access to products,” said Ken Sopris, the group’s president.

New York’s alcohol restrictions — part of the so-called Blue Laws — date to the Prohibition era when booze was banned and Sunday was considered a day of rest and religious worship.

The state has taken a number of steps in the past two decades to relax the laws, initially by letting package stores open on Sundays.

State Sen. James Skoufis, D-Cornwall, said the latest reforms will make it easier for businesses to operate and provide New Yorkers with more options.

“Prohibition was nearly a century ago,” he said. “This legislative package breathes some fresh life into our state’s antiquated alcohol laws by permitting wine and liquor stores to open for additional hours on Sundays, allowing for the sale of promotional items, and more.”

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