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New York Lawmakers Stir Debate With New Effort To Pass “At-Rest” Legislation

February 4, 2014

The battle over New York state’s proposed “at-rest” legislation for wine and spirits is heating up. State legislators, led by state senate co-leader Jeff Klein, are considering a bill to require wine and spirits sold in New York to be warehoused in the state for at least 24 hours. Many small to mid-size wholesalers currently use less expensive warehousing options in New Jersey. They say the new proposal would not only hurt their businesses but also raise wine and spirits prices in the state by around $2 a bottle.

Connie Oehmler of New York’s Verity Wine Partners, a distributor with 45 employees, told both the New York Post and Daily News that the proposed bill will benefit the metro area’s top two wholesalers—Empire Wine Merchants and Southern Wine & Spirits—but likely put Verity out of business, along with creating a tougher climate for nearly 200 other smaller distributors.

Empire and Southern haven’t taken a public position on the bill, nor has Governor Andrew Cuomo—whose administration has directed the Empire State Development agency to review the issue, according to the Daily News—but the Teamsters union is lining up in favor of “at-rest” legislation, saying that it could create up to 1,000 jobs in New York.

“At-rest” bills have been unveiled before in New York’s state legislature only to lose steam. A spokesman for Senator Klein told the Daily News that the most recent effort would protect New York warehouse jobs and put the state on equal footing with other states, 33 of which have similar laws on the books.

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