ALBANY - State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) scored a bipartisan victory Tuesday, as reform to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law bearing her name breezed through New York's upper legislative house.
Also garnering substantial bipartisan support in the state Assembly, the reforms to the ABC law would establish a temporary liquor license for businesses waiting for a permanent license from the state Liquor Authority.
After years of calling for reform of what she sees as an attack on small business, Little was pleased the bill had finally reached the floor.
"We all know how important small business is to us and New York State. These restaurants, bars and delis are small businesses," Little said. "By giving them this opportunity to give them a temporary license while their license is under review will allow them to get into business a lot faster than they have been."
Co-sponsored by upstate Democrats Craig Johnson and David Valesky, the legislation seeks to ease the burden on business owners who are regularly mired in red-tape for months, if not longer.
According to the Liquor Authority's recently appointed Commissioner Dennis Rosen, the regulatory agency has a backlog that reaches a full year.
And for Republican Joe Robach, making someone with a monetary investment wait that long before turning a profit isn't acceptable policy.
"People buy the property because they have to for timing or take the business from someone else and then have to wait for the Liquor Authority," Robach said. "You can imagine if you are paying rent on a building for eight months with no income coming in is pretty devastating."
The legislation would only affect businesses outside of New York City.
Like Little, Sen. Johnson sees the legislation as a necessary means of reigning in regulations that hurt economic development in New York State.
"For far too long the SLA has been dealing with backlogs," Johnson said. "And while there has been improvement, it just takes too long for a business looking to get the necessary permit."
Little lauded Rosen for expediting the licensing process, but noted that further legislation is necessary to fix the roots of the problem.
"Although Chairman Rosen has done a great job in reducing the backlog, this will make it part of the state Liquor Authority law," she said. "We will never have that kind of a backlog and we will help get those small businesses into operation much faster than in the past."
The amendments to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law passed 58 to 3 in the Senate. The measures are currently being championed by Assembly Economic Development Committee Chair Robin Schimminger.