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after gov. david paterson dropped his proposal to allow grocery stores to sell wine, albany is likely to consider a bill to completely overhaul the state's wine and liquor industry. the legislation would reform antiquated prohibition-era "blue laws" that highly regulate wine and liquor sales and stores

liquor stores and small wine shops that criticized paterson's original plan will receive concessions, such as longer hours of operation and the ability to sell mixers and noncarbonated beverages, snacks and corkscrews. under current regulations, they can only sell liquor and wine.

"this allows them to have a broader selection of things to sell, increasing their ability to compete in today's market," said east side state sen. liz krueger, the bill's sponsor.

perhaps the biggest change to the wine and liquor industry would be scrapping the state liquor authority's current licensing system in favor of a medallion system. under the proposed arrangement, the authority would moderate the number of available medallions, which could be sold to another business.

current liquor store owners would be able to get two medallions, and store owners would be permitted to operate up to three businesses. as the law stands, a liquor license can only be given to one person or company.

this reform is expected to be a boon for the state's wine industry, as well as the budget. in addition to an increase in tax revenue, grocery stores that wish to sell wine will have to pay a fee for a license. when paterson tried to include this proposal in his budget, it was estimated to generate $100 million in licensing fees.

krueger is expecting to move on the bill this fall or the 2010 session in january.

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