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Bill Aims to Change Legal Age to Serve Alcohol

BIG FLATS, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - A new bill that has been passed by the New York State Assembly could have negative impacts on the wineries throughout the southern tier if it's signed into law by Governor Cuomo. That bill would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to serve alcohol or handle an open container.

But this bill goes further than just limiting who can serve the alcohol, when it comes to wineries in the Finger Lakes, there would be an increase in restrictions. the bill limits the number of wine or cider tastings a winery can give, the change would only allow for six- 3 ounce wine tastings, which would equal a total of 18 ounces of wine. However, it also makes it illegal for a winery to serve the same person twice in the same day.

"This is something that we can work with, in our business we can have people that have a tasting here leave our premises and then return later in the day maybe to just refresh themselves on one of the wines they had before they purchase." said David Stamp, vineyard manager at Lakewood Vineyard, however that would change under the news law. "That would be a big exposure for us because when somebody has a second taste of a wine that would be a violation of this law."

It isn't just the wineries that will be impacted by this law, any restaurant that serves alcohol would be affected. John Robinson, General Manager at Mooney's in Big Flats says he hadn't even heard of this bill before we asked him about it, but says that it would have an impact on his employees. 

"We'd have to work around it, I mean the law is the law we're certainly not going to jeopardize our business to work around that situation but it definitely would impact the opportunity for the kids that we do have," Robinson says, "we've got a handful probably five to fifteen employees that are about 18, 19 years old."

Most of those who work in restaurants are college students only trying to make a wage to pay their way through college. "I think it impacts the actual employee, it impacts our youth, between the ages of 18 and 21 you know you're kind of college or just graduating high school you know in this area there's not a ton of opportunity," said Robinson, "a lot of these kids are still trying to figure it out and if you're good at what you do as a bar tender or a server you can make a decent wage, and it can also catapult you into different careers, as we know, this day in aga networking is super important."

Current employees say that if this law were to pass it would impact them greatly.

"Yeah, definitely, because I'm 18 and I just turned 18 in January," Kelsey Walrath said, "yeah I think they definitely would, I would go back to my hostessing position where I only make like minimum wage."

"I'm assuming that if we couldn't serve alcohol until after we're 21 or whatever that we wouldn't have a job because that's really what we do," says Makenzi Moore, "we serve alcohol and we serve food and beer goes great with mac and cheese so."

This is just a bill but it is on it's way to be signed by Governor Cuomo, and if it is signed it will become law throughout New York State.

To read the bill, click here.


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