If it is necessary to encourage other sensible legislation in the future by congratulating the New York Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for finding a way to restore a tax break for craft beer brewers, then we do so here wholeheartedly.
They actually went one better when they proposed restoring a tax exemption that had been struck down by a lawsuit from a rival Massachusetts brewer. The package of laws announced last week will also allow farmers to sell craft beer at farmers' markets.
New York's craft brewing industry consists of more than 90 breweries - including the dynamic, ever-growing Southern Tier Brewing Co. of Lakewood. According to the governor's office, the industry supports thousands of jobs and produces more than $200 million in economic activity yearly.
The legislation gives any brewery that produces no more than 60 million gallons of beer a year a refundable tax credit. It amounts to 14 cents a gallon for the first 500,000 gallons produced in New York and 4.5 cents per gallon for the next 15 million gallons. The legislation also exempts breweries that produce brands of 1,500 barrels or less annually from the $150 annual brand label fee.
We note that the tax credit will not cost New York any revenue that it had been receiving. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos points out the tax credit simply restores what was an existing exemption.
"It will be a wash," Skelos told The Association Press.
The legislation worked out by the Senate, Assembly and governor will enable craft brewers that use products grown in New York to sell limited amounts of products directly from their own retail outlets - just as wineries do. In addition, farm wineries would also be allowed to sell New York beers, and farm-based breweries will be able to open restaurants, conference centers, inns, bed-and-breakfast lodgings or hotels on or next to their brewing operations, where beer-making equipment, souvenirs and other items could be sold.
It is gratifying that the chaos of Albany in the end-of-session month of June can result in something so sensible.