Bill allowing wine sales in grocery stores likely won’t pass in 2023: NY lawmakers

A bill that would have allowed New Yorkers to buy wine at the grocery store likely fell through as the state’s powerful liquor lobby argued it would hurt small businesses.

The bill, which would allow Empire State to join the other 40 states selling wine in supermarkets, is unlikely to pass before the June 9 legislative break, said Rep. Pamela Hunter (D, Syracuse). ), said Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), who proposed the bill with . ), he said on Thursday.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to do that this year. As a matter of fact, I know we won’t be able to do it this year,” Kruger said.

“But I hope New Yorkers look at our whole approach to where and how they sell different types of alcohol and say, ‘This doesn’t make sense anymore.'”

Mr Krueger said the wine bill was forced to freeze as liquor stores and wholesalers – including two with a near monopoly on sales – fought to protect market dominance.

The change will allow full-service grocery stores and supermarkets to sell wine in New York. The law excludes convenience stores and big box retailers and incentivizes stores to stock New York’s local wines, such as Riesling’s famous Finger Lakes region, on their shelves.

A bill to allow wine sales in supermarkets is unlikely to pass before the June 9 recess.
Getty Images

Big Apple wine aficionados said the corked bill left shoppers high and dry because of the state’s outdated alcohol regulations.

“Wine shouldn’t be limited to this” [liquor stores]. It’s not even Hennessy or anything like that,” said 50-year-old disc jockey Mark Daly, who was shopping at a supermarket in Queens, Jamaica on Thursday.

“Nobody should monopolize the market. You’re keeping that little guy out,” he said.

Others were baffled as to why it was decidedly easier to eat cannabis in the store than to make wine with cheese.

“Some people just want a little something good to unwind with at dinner,” said Derrick Wallace, 52, a construction worker in Rosedale, Queens.

“I see no harm in selling wine in these stores,” he says. “Convenient for normal people.”

Proponents of the bill say it’s a common-sense way to combat the state’s draconian 1934 alcohol law with a more consumer-friendly process.

According to the group’s May press release, opponents (such as Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants, which make up the majority of the statewide wine wholesaler) said the change would force local small businesses to ” Destroy it,” he claims.

They also argue that the sale of wine in grocery stores “makes alcohol more accessible to teens, leading to underage drinking and DUI.”

Jeff Saunders, chairman of the New York Retailers Alliance, who opposes the bill, said, “This is just money making, cannibalizing small businesses for the benefit of big corporations.”

Speaker of Congress Carl Heastie
“It’s unlikely,” Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday when asked if the bill would pass Congress before the end of the year.
Hans Pennink

Ultimately, lawmakers hope they can modernize the state’s post-Prohibition system and sway liquor store owners with a broad package of alcohol laws that offer perks.

The broader bill would allow liquor store owners to own two stores, sell more mixers and open earlier on Sundays. Kruger first introduced the bill 13 years ago with the aim of expanding New York’s wine industry, noting that dozens of other states allow the sale of wine in supermarkets.

“Why wouldn’t we want to help the wine industry grow and thrive?” He said he was ready to do so.

“Somehow our wholesale system, which is basically a monopoly model, ended up offering a more expensive product for consumers. I don’t know,” she said. “I think wholesalers are very threatened by this.”

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits signed a $10,000-a-month contract with Albany-based lobbying firm Bolton St. Paul in December, state records show. Johns.

Empire Merchants North signed a $5,000-a-month deal with Albany-based lobbying firm Featherston, Ho, Wiley & Klein in January, according to records.

The latest push for new wine regulations comes after a series of changes were recommended by a commission, with Gov. Kathy Hochul endorsing the expansion of liquor sales hours.

A recent poll in Siena, commissioned by supermarket chain Wegmans, also found voters overwhelmingly favor wine sales at the grocery store, with 70% in New York City, 77% in suburbs, and 77% in Upstate. 79%.

Shopping at Whole Foods Market in New York on Thursday, April 27, 2023.
Proponents of the bill say it’s a common-sense way to combat the state’s draconian 1934 alcohol law with a more consumer-friendly process.

On Thursday, Hunter vowed to continue his efforts to pass the bill until June 8, the final date for Congress.

“Until the verdict is handed down, we will be actively looking for it to pass at our house,” she said. “Most of the objections I have personally seen, and I have read all the correspondence, are from individual liquor stores concerned about loss of business.”

“Nobody wants a business to close. We want to make sure it can thrive and survive,” she said.

“It’s unlikely,” Congress Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat for the Bronx, told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday when asked if the bill would pass the House before the end of the year.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins ​​(D-Yonkers) also said there were no plans to submit a broad package to the Senate to review the state’s alcohol laws.

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