Notice Now Required of Establishments Submitting a New or Renewal of Liquor License
On December 20, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S2359, amending the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to require the posting of notice by certain establishments of a new or renewal application for a liquor license.
The bill, passed by a 61-1 vote in the Senate, requires a posting within 10 days after filing a new or renewal application to sell liquor at retail. Notice is to remain posted until the date of the hearing or public meeting, which must be specified in the notice. Notice must be posted in a conspicuous place at the entrance to the establishment to be easily read by the public throughout the application’s pendency.
The Senate was concerned with certain liquor licensees’ effects on their neighbors, including patrons’ disorderly behavior and loud music. These so-called “problem bars” lead some neighbors to issue complaints to the establishments or the police, but the Senate realized that other neighbors are not aware of how to contact the State Liquor Authority to issue a formal complaint.
The bill’s requirement that establishments post notice of a new or renewal liquor license application is meant to provide concerned members of the public with the necessary information to be aware of a “problem bar” having submitted a liquor license application and is to provide contact information of the State Liquor Authority for the public’s reference. The Senate believes this will “help provide the State Liquor Authority with a fuller picture of the impact of problem establishments.”
Brew-Pubs Now Permitted to Sell 2,000 Barrels per Year, Up from Merely 250 Barrels Under the Previous Cap
On December 16, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S5427, which expands the amount of barrels that a restaurant brewer may sell at retail. The bill passed by unanimous.
This is our second amendment to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law in this newsletter installment, adding § 64-a to expand the cap on the number of barrels of beer that restaurant brewers may sell at retail annually from 250 to 2,000 barrels per year. The Senate recognized that brew-pubs are a growing business in our state and some brew-pubs find it difficult to expand business and grow their brand to their fullest potential under the 250 barrel per year cap.
This cap increase is meant to facilitate expansion of product onto store shelves and into other bars and restaurants. The Senate noted that this brew-pub cap is still well below the current micro-brewery cap of 75,000 barrels per year.
The bill further eliminates the supplemental license required to sell beer at retail and requires the sale to be through a licensed beer wholesaler.
New Warning Required for Jewelry Containing Lead
On December 16, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4046, which requires jewelry containing 40 parts per million of lead to carry a warning that the jewelry “may be harmful if eaten or chewed.”
The bill, passed by a unanimous 62-0 vote in the Senate, adds § 37-0115 to the Environmental Conservation Law. This section defines types of jewelry and imposes the warning requirement.
As many litigators are aware, lead is particularly hazardous to young children, even in very low levels. The Senate found that high concentrations of lead have been “consistently found in jewelry, particularly inexpensive jewelry that is marketed to children.” The bill is therefore meant for public safety, particularly of children, and aims to inform the consumer public of lead levels in jewelry, even for relatively small levels of exposure.
Senate Imposes Liability on Foreign-Incorporated LLC Members for Unpaid Wages of New York State Workers
On December 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S2734, which imposes liability on limited liability company members for wages due to laborers, servants, or employees by domestic and foreign LLCs.
The bill amends Limited Liability Company Law § 609(c) to ensure that wage theft from employees of Limited Liability Companies does not occur when the LLC is established in a foreign state but employs workers in the State of New York.
LLC Law § 609 already imposes liability for unpaid wages on the members with the 10 largest ownership interests after a judgment against the LLC has been returned unsatisfied. This bill expands that liability to foreign LLCs who employ workers in New York State. The bill hopes to ensure that these workers are treated the same in the eyes of the law as domestic LLCs are.
Foreign LLCs had previously been exempt from this, as 2015 legislation ended the distinction under which foreign corporations were exempted by court decision from this rule. Ultimately, the Senate now wants foreign LLCs to be bound to the same rules as domestic LLCs, thus eliminating any incentive for an LLC doing business in New York State to form under the laws of a foreign state.
Agencies Now Required to Assess Time for Compliance and Actively Solicit Small Businesses and Local Governments for Input and Compliance on Agency Rules and Regulations
On December 6, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S5812, which requires agencies proposing regulations that affect small businesses or local governments to assess the minimum time such entities will need to come into compliance with any new regulatory requirements.
The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous. It amends State Administrative Procedure Act § 202-b(2) to require that when an agency prepares a regulatory flexibility analysis (RFA) to determine a new rule’s adverse impacts on or requirements of small businesses or local governments, the RFA must now additionally assess the minimum time needed by the small business or local government to comply with the rule.
It also amends § 202-b(6) to require than an agency actively solicit participation by small businesses or local governments in an RFA’s required rulemaking. The amendments clarify that it is no longer enough for an agency to publish a new rule – it must now take active steps to ensure small businesses or local governments are aware of the rule, understand it, and are engaging in dialogue on policy changes.
The bill arose out of the Senate’s understanding that while regulations are important, their goals are only realized once small businesses and local governments actually comply with their requirements. This bill requires state agencies to actively solicit communication with such entities and thereby encourage compliance with agency rules and regulations.
Prepared by Daniel J. Cercone