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Liquor stores aren't alone in opposition to wine in grocery stores

SARANAC LAKE - Proponents of legislation to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores throughout New York are hoping the third time is a charm.

A new bill that would authorize grocery stores to sell wine is circulating in Albany, despite being shot down twice before - once in 1984 and again earlier this year.

This time, lawmakers are hoping the bill will gain momentum on the heels of a report by a Cornell University researcher that claims the state would see significant benefits if grocery stores were permitted to sell wine.

Bradley Rickard is an assistant professor of economics at Cornell. By his estimate, introducing wine to grocery stores could bring in an additional $22 million per year in taxes for New York.

Liquor stores say allowing wine in grocery stores would harm their business, and many law enforcement officials believe it provides minors greater access to alcohol.

But Rickard counters that the current version of the bill would provide compensation to liquor store owners to make up for expected revenue losses.

Ralph Eckardt owns Adirondack Wine & Liquor in Saranac Lake. He said the promise of tax credits and compensation from a government that can't pay its own bills doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

"They want more tax money coming in, and I can't see how they're going to make up the difference and send us a check for the money we'll lose," Eckardt said. "It just doesn't make sense to me. I don't even think they have the money to do that. I wouldn't even count on that; I think it's a ploy on their part to make it look good for all the stores like we're going to get something back for this. Like I said, the state is in such dire straights, they wouldn't have the money to make up the difference and pay us."

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