NY Liquor Regulators Slapped Down For Shady Enforcement Tactic
New York State Representative Phil Steck of Schnectady has introduced a bill in Albany that the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) and its allies in the wholesaler community aren’t going to like. If passed into law, his bill would prohibit the NYSLA from trying to destroy a local wine retailer and put all its employees out on the street.
Rep. Steck’s proposed bill, A5920, would prohibit the NYSLA from penalizing a NY state alcohol licensee for allegedly violating another state’s laws when the licensee has never even been charged with, let alone convicted of, a violation of another state’s laws.
The bill stems from the NYSLA’s attempt to revoke the license of Empire Wine, a wine shop in upstate New York that has built a national reputation as a go-to source for great wine. According to the NYSLA, Empire has shipped wine to consumers in state’s where it is allegedly illegal for out-of-state wine retailers to ship wine. However, no state has charged Empire Wine with a violation of its laws. And no state has convicted Empire Wine of violating its laws. The NYSLA, under the direction of Dennis Rosen, thought it a keen idea to revoke the license of Empire under the authority of a little known, and wildly vague, NY statute that gives the NYSLA the authority to revoke a licensee’s permits if they engage in “improper conduct”.
Representative Steck realized that the NYSLA has gone well beyond its mission and overreached terribly in its persecution of Empire wine. In the justification portion of the new bill Rep. Steck wrote:
” It is concerning that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) is conducting enforcement activity on behalf of other states, when these states have not requested their enforcement or intervention, nor has the New York merchant been found to have violated the law of those states. The area of law the SLA is attempting to enforce is vague considering that 9NYCRR 53.1 (n) does not specifically list out-of-state shipments as constituting “improper conduct”.”
The legal justification Rep. Steck places in his new bill ends with this reminder:
“the New York merchant has not violated any provision of the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Law, or any SLA rule or regulation, nor has it been found to have violated such other state’s law or regulation.”
And yet, the NYSLA wants to destroy this business and leave all its employees jobless.
But what’s really ugly is that you’ve got wholesaler members of the alcohol beverage community who actually support this kind of unethical attack on a licensee. And it’s no coincidence that those wholesalers supporting the NYSLA’s vulgar actions against Empire are exactly those who benefit from its actions.
Until these wholesalers start calling on the NYSLA to revoke the license of NY wholesalers who have committed confirmed violations in other states, we can’t them seriously. Instead, we properly define them as hypocrites.
This is great news. I do business with another retailer that has been targeted by the NYSLA for this practice when in fact all they are doing is providing wines I can’t buy through normal channels here in California. Free the grapes!
This is good news if it goes through. The current situation has folks jittery. I recently bought some wine from a producer in the Finger Lakes. They charged me NY tax on the shipment. I have more regularly purchased from folks on either side of the subject one, and they have never charged me NY tax. I live in New Hampshire.
“wholesaler members of the alcohol beverage community who actually support this kind of unethical attack…”? This is very difficult to believe. Where did you get the evidence, Mr. Wark, that wholesalers are supporting the NYSLA in this case and how are they doing so?