Assembly Calls for Reform of ABC Law

May 16, 2005

Letting no grass grow under its feet, the New York State Assembly passed legislation (A.6686) directing the Law Revision Commission to review, revise, and reform the State’s Alcohol Beverage Control Law. The purpose of the initiative, sponsored by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, is to modernize and reform New York State liquor laws, consistent with this morning’s 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in consolidated cases originating in New York State and Michigan (Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan, et al., Petitioners v. Eleanor Heald, et al.; Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, Petitioner v. Eleanor Heald, et al.; and Juanita Swedenburg, et al., Petitioners v. Edward D. Kelly, Chairman, New York Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, State Liquor Authority, et. al. ). Schimminger chairs the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, which has jurisdiction over the state’s liquor laws.

“Comprehensive reform of the state liquor laws will eliminate incongruities and ambiguities and bring greater clarity to the law,” said Assemblyman Schimminger. “What was before today an important move to reform our state liquor laws now is a vital necessity in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.”

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturns laws in Michigan and New York that bar interstate shipment of wine. The case centered on the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition and allowed states the ability to regulate alcohol sales. Many states, including New York, passed laws to require out-of-state wineries to sell their products through licensed wholesalers within the state.

“This bill directs the Law Revision Commission to review the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and to make recommendations to the Legislature, including proposed revision of the law as it determines necessary,” said Schimminger. “The state's goals and objectives set forth in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law have been hampered by its archaic structure. Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision makes it even more important to modernize and rationalize these antiquated laws – originally enacted in 1934 – and bring them into conformity with the federal court ruling.

Senator James Alesi will sponsor this legislation in the State Senate.