We may be paying a few extra bucks for our bottles of booze if two bills being considered in Albany come to fruition. The so-called "at rest" legislation would require New York wine and liquor distributors to house their stock in state warehouses for at least 48 hours prior to distribution. As it stands now, small to medium-sized distributors house their product in New Jersey, where storage costs are significantly lower than their New York counterparts. The distributors say that increased storage costs could put them out of business and at the very least consumers would be spending $1 to $2 more for bottles.
“If this thing passes, I close,” said Connie Oehmler, who is a co-owner of Verity Wine Partners in Manhattan and a member of Stop The Cork Tax. Oehmler employs 45 people at her store, many of whom could be laid off if the legislation passes. “It’s so disheartening, it makes me absolutely devastated."
Stop the Cork Tax has taken a deep whiff of the proposed legislation's bouquet and believes it has earthy notes of corruption. New York's largest wholesalers, Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants both already operate warehouses in the state and both have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to elected officials, including bill co-leader Jeff Klein and governor Cuomo. “This is just a blatant, bald-faced attempt to put all their competition out of business,” says Oehmler.
For their part, legislators tout the possibility of hundreds of new jobs for the state and desire to keep New York competitive with other states where similar laws have been enacted. “At the end of the day, why would we keep New York goods stored in New Jersey warehouses, when the next Bridgegate may be just around the corner?” quipped Klein spokesman Eric Soufer. When in doubt, blame Chris Christie.