New Law Expands Sunday Alcohol Sales at Restaurants and Bars as Part of Comprehensive Blue Laws Overhaul and Broadens Retail Sales By Producers
Legislation Consolidates Licensing and Eases Regulatory Requirements For Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries and Cideries
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to modernize New York's archaic 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which included provisions prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishments before noon on Sunday. The comprehensive legislation allows alcohol to be sold earlier on Sundays, adds common sense provisions to broaden retail sales by producers, and reduces burdensome fees for wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries statewide. Over the last five years, Governor Cuomo has taken sweeping action to simplify regulations for the beverage industry, resulting in an unprecedented, three-fold increase in licensed wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries across the state. The Governor signed the legislation at the Genesee Brew House in Rochester. More information is available here.
VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks at the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Well, it is my pleasure to be back in Rochester and it is really my pleasure to be back in the Brew House. For those of you who remember – we had a “Capital for a Day” a while back and we celebrated at the Brew House afterwards so it’s a pleasure to be back with all of you and the employees and it’s such a special day. The first thank you goes to a great partner. Kris was talking about locking arms. Locking arms means there is a partner to lock arms with and a company that cares about a city and cares about a region and is willing to make a commitment to stay. That is what Kris Serchio has done and that is what Genesee has done, and let’s give them a round of applause.
We are here with many colleagues. You’re going to hear from Assemblyman Morelle and Senator Robach in a minute. We have Senator Funke here and we have Assemblyman Johns and we have Senator Tim Kennedy who is a big supporter of this bill – so much so that he came over from Buffalo just for a free beer. Just think about that. Jim Trezise is here, who has done so much for this industry for so long. Danny Wegman, who is running the REDC, which is just doing great, great work and made the decision to fund this project, which was a great investment for the people of the state of New York. Danny Wegman – thank you for your leadership. We have Vince Bradley from the State Liquor Authority who is doing a great job and we are going to sign the reform bill in a moment on that. We are here with the former Lieutenant Governor of the state of New York, Robert Duffy. Let’s give him a round of applause.
The story really starts with Bob. Bob was the mayor of this great city. I was the attorney general and we started to work together and then I decided to run for Governor. We had been talking about Upstate New York and the problems in Upstate New York and Bob’s constant point was that he would go to Albany as a mayor and Albany would always turn a deaf ear. He would go in, make his case, and then nothing would happen. That wasn’t just Bob and Rochester – that was Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, that was Albany – it was all of Upstate New York. And it wasn’t that Bob Duffy wasn’t making his case. He makes his case very well. He’s a big guy, you know, hard to miss, he is an impressive fellow. It’s that Albany, frankly, and the State Legislature, was too consumed with downstate New York and was inattentive to Upstate New York, that is the simple but painful truth. If you look at the Legislature most of them are elected from downstate New York or Long Island. That was always the focus and Upstate New York got the short end of the stick. I asked Bob to run with me, he said he didn’t want to leave Rochester but I said, in a great Jiu-Jitsu by the way, “If you really loved Rochester than you would come be Lieutenant Governor. If you really loved Rochester you would leave Rochester to fulfill your love.” He was confused by what I said and so was I but the point was that if you wanted to help Rochester we would have to do it from Albany because Rochester could not pull itself up by its own bootstraps without help from the State and without someone to start the investment and that is what we did. And that is when you saw the story of Upstate New York starting to turn around.
We have invested in new industries that frankly no one hear of six or seven years ago and if I told you that Rochester was going to be in the photonics industry, you would say that there was no such industry as photonics. If I told you Buffalo was going to be in the solar panel manufacturing business and they were going to be the home to the largest solar panel manufacturer in the hemisphere, which is what Senator Kennedy and I were just looking at, you would say that you had never heard of that industry. If I took you to Albany and said that we are going to be the home of nanotechnology and that companies from all over the globe are going to come to our nanotechnology facilities, you would think that I made the word up.
So we are attracting new industries and new businesses and they are coming to Upstate New York but, we are also in the traditional industries to bring them forward and to grow them. The brewery industry, the wine industry has phenomenal potential for the state of New York and we have had great success in growing those industries. Jim Trezise who runs the Wine and Grape Foundation and he works with breweries and wineries all across the state, it has been exponential – our growth. It has been a growth industry all across the country but the growth has even been greater in the state of New York. When you look at the numbers, twenty years ago, there were forty wineries in the state of New York. Today we have 400 wineries. New York is now the third largest producer of wine in the United States – a $200 million industry is now our winery industry in New York State. Breweries, when we took office, there were 71, now there are 220 breweries all across the state. So it has been a tremendous, tremendous growth.
Kris alluded to this, it’s not just the breweries and the wineries. We’ve also invested heavily in tourism. The I Love NY campaign, because I have always firmly believed, when people see Upstate New York they’re going to want to visit Upstate New York. Once they see what we have, they see our beauty, they see our natural resources, they’re going to come. We just have to expose the beauty, and that’s the I Love NY campaign. We invested $100 million thanks to the Legislature in the I Love NY campaign, advertisements, et cetera. Tourism is now a $100 billion industry in the state of New York and in the past two years that tourism industry has increased $2 billion, believe it or not. So it’s a great growth industry, tourism. And we have a synergy between tourism and the wineries and the breweries. And we have linked them together where people now do trips where part of the trip is a wine trail, the Finger Lakes region has full wine tastings, breweries, et cetera. So it has had phenomenal economic success for the state of New York and I think in many ways this project brings it all together.
The Genesee Brewing Company is not just another brewing company, it is a part of New York’s history, a part of New York’s tradition. We grew up with Genny, and there was a sad chapter where Genesee Brewing almost closed, I remember that, where it literally was teetering on the edge. And North American Brewing Company came in and people came together and saved the company and this is now going to launch Genesee Brewery to a level it’s never been before. It’s not about stabilizing what was, it’s about creating what never has been. The State is going to invest $9 million through the Excelsior Tax Credit Program and through a grant from the URI. The grant is going to also provide that 128 new jobs are going to be created, because it’s about creating jobs and half of the jobs that are going to be created are going to go to people who are already living in poverty. So it is so smart because it’s an economic development initiative creating jobs, and it’s an anti-poverty initiative, lifting people from poverty.
Our $9 million dollars is going to be matched by $38 million dollars from the Genesee Brewing Company, which is going to expand this facility. Make it a start-of-the-art facility – the best brewing equipment in existence today. So, it’s not just Genesee of yesterday, it is Genesee reaching a height that it has never reached before. It will be a sight to visit, it will have event space, state-of-the art equipment, it brings tourism, it grows the brewery industry. It is exactly what we’ve been working towards. And to do it with Genesee really warms the heart of all New Yorkers. Because as I’ve said before they are New York. They are about New York. They’ve had great days they’ve had some tough days, but they didn’t give up, and we held each other tight and we lifted each other up and now Genesee is reaching heights never reached before. And it couldn’t happen at a better time, because today is National Beer Lovers Day.
So, we are going to sign a piece of legislation now. And what this legislation does, is basically two-fold – number one, we’ve done a lot of work with the wineries and the breweries, who said the current laws of the state were strangling their growth. Why? Because the State and liquor laws were basically written during the Prohibition Era. And they were very strict and they were very restrictive, and they wanted a winery to just grow wine and they couldn’t sell. All sales had to happen at specific times in liquor stores and that was the structure and that’s the way God wanted it to be from the Old Testament and it was not going to change. It was just out of date with what we were trying to do. Because we’re trying to be creative, we’re trying to be entrepreneurial. Wineries now want to do tastings. Wineries want to be able to serve a little food, they want to sell from the winery, they want to be able to ship. Breweries the same thing. And the laws actually discouraged it. By law, you couldn’t do any of those things.
So our challenge was to change the laws to actually facilitate business growth rather than frustrate business growth. And this is another installment in changing the laws to facilitate the economic growth of these wineries and breweries, ending a lot of the necessary permitting processes, one permit you can basically run the entire facility, reducing the fees, so we don’t charge so many fees to a new business so that it makes it almost impossible for them to get off the ground. And it also changes the hour, hours of operation that you can now serve alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays, which will actually stimulate the restaurant business and the hotel business for Sunday morning activities.
So it will liberate again the wineries and breweries, it will change the hours from noon to 10 on Sundays and it will grow an industry and with this investment today, you see exactly what it’s about. Building on the tradition, more jobs, more economic development, more tourism, more growth for Upstate New York. Congratulations to all.