Any Stores Open Right Now – Everything that was considered illegal in New York, like buying marijuana and smoking it in public, or betting on sports on your cell phone, is now fair game.

But what if you want to buy wine at the grocery store? Or a bottle of Bloody Mary early on a Sunday morning? Sorry no. This is against the law.

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Over the years, state lawmakers have tried to address New York’s antiquated liquor laws, but with little success. For example, until last year, it was forbidden to open liquor stores on Christmas. It wasn’t until 2016 that lawmakers failed to pass a so-called liquor breakfast bill that would have allowed restaurants to serve alcohol before noon on Sundays.

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But efforts to make the liquor industry more competitive and consumer-friendly have often run into opposition from money-losing parties and opposition from lawmakers worried about facilitating alcohol sales. The state has established three commissions in recent years, with the first two in 2009 and 2016 making recommendations for reforming state laws. Most were not adopted.

The renewed focus on New York’s liquor laws comes from a third panel created last year by Gov. Cathy Hochul and the state Legislature in May to propose changes to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, or AVS. It stems from a 192-page report. The law passed in 1934 has been criticized for being out of date and having remnants of Prohibition.

At first glance, some of the changes state lawmakers are considering to overhaul their laws may seem like simple, common-sense reforms that would benefit consumers.

One would allow New Yorkers to buy wine at grocery stores. Another would allow liquor stores to open before noon on Sundays. A third allows bars to buy booze directly from a liquor store at the end of a busy night instead of waiting for the next shipment from a supplier.

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But efforts to change liquor laws look unlikely to succeed this year, facing a strong but familiar headwind: staunch opposition from the liquor industry, which has used its influence in state Congress to maintain the status quo and protect its bottom line. ten years.

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As the 2023 legislative session draws to a close, proposed changes to liquor laws have prompted last-minute lobbying by liquor stores, distributors and distillers. Bars and restaurants that have tried to loosen regulations to make it easier to get liquor licenses have also run into controversy.

And grocers and supermarkets, led by chains like Wegmans, have joined forces to achieve an unlikely goal: allow wine to be sold in their stores, reigniting a years-long battle against liquor stores they see as a threat to the law. to their existence.

“New York is one of the few states where you can buy beer, but you can’t go to a supermarket and buy wine, so this is somehow a big controversy,” said state Sen. Liz Kruger, a Manhattan Democrat who introduced the bill. allow grocery stores to sell wine.

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“The main problem is that you have a monopoly on wholesale liquor in this state, and the three wholesalers who control all liquor distribution feel that that puts them at a disadvantage,” he said.

Sen. Liz Kruger has introduced a bill that would allow New York to join 40 other states that allow wine in grocery stores.Credit… Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

The Rochester-based Wegmans supermarket chain spent more than $30,000 in May alone to implement the measure every time it opened a liquor store in Albany over the past 40 years.

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants, the state’s two major liquor distributors, have spent at least $120,000 since the start of the year to lobby state officials. The family that owns Florida-based Southern Glazer’s, the largest liquor distributor in the United States, donated at least $25,000 to Ms. Hochul’s campaign last year.

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Recently, Rochester Democrat Assemblyman Harry Bronson, A.B.S. law. “We have to be very careful here. The reason for this law is that we want to make the sale and distribution of alcohol highly regulated.”

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Appointed last year, the 16-member commission, like previous commissions, was created to find common ground to break the longstanding logjam in Albany. It included a winery owner, an Anheuser-Busch senior manager, the head of a liquor store sales group, and representatives from the restaurant industry, mainly from the distillery.

The committee was unable to reach consensus on the most contentious issues, including allowing grocery stores to sell wine. But by majority vote, the council issued a relatively modest report with 18 recommendations, ranging from clerical changes to streamline liquor license applications to removing restrictions prohibiting restaurants and bars from serving alcohol within 200 feet of schools and places of worship.

The most momentum for change appears to be in the state Senate, where Hudson Valley Democrat James Skoufis is the loudest proponent of reforming the A.V.C. submitted a bill reflecting the law and the recommendations of the commission. It came out of committee.

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“The most important stakeholder here is the consumer,” Mr. Skoufis said in an interview. “For example, there’s no reason why a consumer can’t go into a liquor store and pick up a mixer or bitter while they’re there, instead of stopping separately at a grocery store down the street.” (His bill would loosen restrictions on what liquor stores can sell besides alcohol.)

The path is unclear in the State Assembly, where Mr. Bronson’s proposed legislation is not expected to come up for a vote this year.

Senator James Skoufis has introduced a bill to expand the types of merchandise that liquor stores can sell.Credit… Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Media Assets, Inc.

Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, has not publicly expressed her position on the proposed changes. Members of his staff met with industry stakeholders, including commissioners, in May. State officials have expressed interest in reforming liquor laws, but they are leaning toward addressing the issue next year, said a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

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Ms. Hochul’s spokeswoman, Hazel Crampton-Hayes, said the governor was committed to “flexibility and reform” in the industry, noting that he was able to legalize liquor sales last year.

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“We have reviewed these recommendations and are continuing to work with the legislature and stakeholders to reform the sector,” Ms Crampton-Hayes said.

The fact that the commission’s recommendations are non-binding has led to an unusual dynamic that threatens to undermine any action: Some of the same industry players that produced the report are lobbying against the changes it recommends.

“The wild cards are those forces that didn’t like the commission’s results and are now actively lobbying against what they didn’t like,” said Paul Zuber, executive vice president of the business council. , a lobby group for businesses in the state. Mr. Zuber is part of the commission.

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The commission’s recommendations allow business owners to own more than one wine and liquor store. New York is currently one of the few states that prohibits liquor store owners from owning more than one establishment, a restriction that does not apply to other retail businesses such as restaurants, laundromats and hardware stores.

The Business Council and national liquor chains like Total Wine & More are pushing for an increase in the number of stores an owner can own, saying it would increase competition and allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, with just one store on Long Island.

But lobbying groups for the state’s more than 3,000 liquor stores, many of them small businesses, strongly opposed the move, calling it a fundamental threat. They believe that even with additional licenses, the number of chain stores may increase.

“All of a sudden, you’re going to corporatize liquor,” said Michael Correra, a liquor store owner in Brooklyn Heights and executive director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association. “I know my community, I live in my community. I’m not someone from Delaware or Virginia who has 1,000 stores in the U.S. and wants to open 10 stores in New York.”

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Louis Ferré-Sadurny is the Albany bureau chief covering New York state politics. He joined The Times in 2017 and previously wrote about housing for subway desks. He is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. @ luisferre

A version of this article published in the New York edition of the New York edition was titled: Wine at Wegmans? Never been to New York,

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