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Lawmakers pass bills to serve alcohol at 10 AM on Sundays

Posted by Karen DeWitt on

While state lawmakers are still hung up over how to cancel the pensions of legislators convicted of felonies, among other end of session issues, they have agreed to extend the hours each week that New Yorkers can legally drink at bars and restaurants.

New Yorkers will now be able to order a drink, or two, with their brunch, or in some cases breakfast, at bars and restaurants on Sunday morning.  The current law forbids sale of alcohol before noon on Sunday. But starting when Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law, alcohol will be available starting two hours earlier.

Assembly sponsor Robin Schimminger, of Buffalo,  opposed the original bill, which would allow liquor to be served starting four hours earlier, at 8 AM every Sunday.e He explained the compromise measure on the floor.

“This bill allows sales on Sunday morning , beginning at 10 AM statewide,” Schimminger said.

Bar and restaurant owners can apply for permits to serve alcohol beginning at 8 AM on some Sundays, if there’s a special reason, like a football game played in Europe which is several hours ahead of the United States.

Not everyone was pleased. Assemblyman Charles Barron, of Brooklyn, says the needs of churchgoers are being ignored.

“I’m getting politically intoxicated by all of these alcohol bills that come out of the economic development committee,” Barron said, who said he wants another way of creating jobs that “doesn’t involve alcohol”.

Barron joked that he was going to start a prohibition movement.

Other Brooklyn Assembly members , who represent a Borough undergoing intense  gentrification, say the measure aggravates a growing problem. Assemblywoman Annette Robinson  says bars are springing up close by to neighborhood churches, and all night partiers getting drinks on a Sunday morning might disturb quieter residents going to religious services.

“Every time that I go back home, there’s another bar coming up around the corner,” Robinson complained.  “What is our focus, in terms of communities and families as opposed to bars and alcohol?”

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who represents the Rochester area, supports the 10 AM alcohol sales on Sundays. Morelle says the Sunday sales limits are part of the old outdated blue laws, begun by the Puritans in colonial America.

“The laws are a vestige of 17th or 18th Century,” Morelle said. “It involves a preference for a religious observance.”

But Morelle says Sunday is not everybody’s Sabbath.

“In Upstate New York we have many facilities who would like to entertain families for brunch in the morning,” Morelle said.

The bill was approved 106-21. It was already approved in the Senate 62-0.

The measure also eases some regulations for brewers of craft beer, cider and distilleries, as well as wineries.

But those who drink too much at Sunday brunch will have to be careful driving home, the legislature is unlikely to pass a bill allowing ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to operate outside New York City.

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