Little opposes latest push to sell wine in grocery stores

State Senator Betty Little says she will oppose the latest effort to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores across New York.

In recent years, legislation has been introduced in Albany to allow the state's grocery stores, convenience stores, and bodegas to sell wine. Under current state law, those businesses are only permitted to sell beer and malt beverages.

Past bills have failed, and Little says she'll continue to vote against similar legislation.

Earlier this month, an organization known as New Yorkers for Economic Growth and Open Markets released a study showing the economic benefits of allowing grocers to sell wine.

The report claims that New York state could raise hundreds of millions of dollars through franchise fees for grocery stores, as well as $71.1 million annually through sales tax on additional consumption.

Proponents also claim the sale of wine in grocery stores would create 6,000 net new jobs at wineries and related industries.

State Senator Tom O'Mara, a Republican and Conservative from Big Flats in western New York, says lawmakers have a responsibility to look at every potential avenue of economic and fiscal growth in order to turn around New York's economy.

"We shouldn't just close the door on a proposal that could raise significant revenue without raising taxes, that could strengthen agriculture and tourism, and that could promise local, long-term economic growth," O'Mara said.

Wineries and grape growers in New York say the legislation could add nearly 1,500 new jobs to the industry.

Dean Norton is president of the New York Farm Bureau. He says New York can be competitive with other wine hotspots like Washington, Oregon and California - if it eases current restrictions on grocery stores.

"The farms in the states we compete with have benefited from the sale of wine in grocery stores," Norton said.

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