Sen. Little seeks to reform Liquor Authority, slash lengthy permit delays

ALBANY - For years, business owners have complained about the costly, time-consuming and what they call unduly burdensome process surrounding liquor licensing in New York State.

A report released recently by the state Law Revision Commission validates these claims, and for longtime Liquor Authority critic state Senator Betty Little, the time for change is now.

"Businesses whose economic survival has depended on being able to serve and sell beer and alcohol have had to wait months and months to receive their liquor licenses," Little said. "That's unacceptable and absurd, quite frankly, at a time when the state's own economic survival depends so much on revenues that businesses like these can generate if given the chance."

In order to secure a liquor license in New York, businesses must answer questions not only about what type of establishment they are - like a club, bar or restaurant for example - but the authority also wants to know obscure details like building height and type of music played.

"I just don't see how that type of information is relevant," Little said.

The report finds that the Liquor Authority now has a full year backlog and is short-staffed.

Various tavern enterprises, including CB Spirits in Warrensburg, were mired in delays in recent years as they sought to obtain a liquor permit.

The lengthy delays are devastating to would-be business owners who often have invested their life-savings into an endeavor just to see it sit empty and turn little if any profit.

The Law Revision Commission's report calls for the issuing of temporary licenses for businesses looking to sell alcohol while the lengthy application review process takes place.

Such a measure would require that legislation be passed in the state Assembly and Senate.

Little authored a bill that would do just that last spring, but it has yet to reach the floor of either house for a vote.

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