ALBANY — New York movie theaters are hoping to rewrite the ending in the push to legalize alcohol sales.
Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau
ALBANY – Allowing movie theaters to sell alcohol in New York won’t happen this year, the head of the Assembly said.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Democratic lawmakers have concerns about having children around where alcohol is being sold. Theaters and breweries have been making a late push for the law before the legislative session ends Wednesday.
“We’re not supporting that,” Heastie, D-Bronx, told reporters Monday.
“We want people to be able to take their children to a movie theater and not have to worry about the sobriety of the people sitting next to them.”
Heastie’s comments mark the second time this year that lawmakers have rejected the measure after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that he supported the proposal.
The measure was rejected in the state budget in April, but theater owners and their supporters earlier this month urged legislators to reconsider, saying it would particularly help independent theaters and small breweries.
On Tuesday, theater owners said they were still hoping they could convince the state Legislature to change its mind before it ends its session for the year.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that New York will join the 37 states that already allow alcoholic beverages in movie theaters,” Joe Masher, president of the National Association of Theater Owners of New York state and chief operating officer of Bow Tie Cinemas, said in a statement.
“The fact of the matter is although we allow it either via a restaurant or tavern license, the current arrangement doesn’t support small, historic theaters nor local, craft beverage producers that make their home in every corner of the Empire State.”
Lawmakers who sponsor the bill amended it Friday in hopes of making it more palatable to their colleagues. The bill was changed to require municipalities outside New York City to express their support for the law, essentially making it an opt-in program.
The bill would let theaters apply for a permit to serve alcohol. The current law only lets theaters sell booze if they also serve food with tables.
Supporters sought to address concerns about families going to the movies with alcohol sales by limiting moviegoers to one drink at a time and only for sale for PG-13 or R-rated movies.
But while the Republican-led Senate has backed the measure in the past, it continues to face opposition in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
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