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    New York Blues Laws Questioned

    State reportedly considering dropping Sunday ban on liquor sales to raise tax revenue.

    NEW YORK -- Already facing a potential $10 billion dollar deficit next year, 2003, New York lawmakers are reportedly looking at putting an end to the blue laws ban liquor sales in some stores in New York on Sundays. The New York Daily News reports state lawmakers could pass legislation to repeal the restriction as soon as January.

    The Senate's bill, which would allow supermarkets to sell wine, is being sponsored by Sen. Randy Kuhl (R-Bath), the powerful chairman of the Education Committee and a lieutenant of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer).

    Advocates for mom-and-pop liquor stores are against the bills, arguing that competition from supermarkets could put them out of business. They also contend that the blue laws help them have one day off.

    On the other side are the Food Industry Alliance, representing 21,000 supermarkets, and the Distilled Spirits Council. The supermarkets' lobby projects the state would get some $130 million from the wine sales proposal through a one-time fee of $10,000 for supermarkets to get in on the sales. The Distilled Spirits Council estimates that $36 million a year could be raised from taxes on liquor.

    New York earlier this year raised the tax on cigarettes, which have a pack of smokes selling for an average of $7.50 in New York City. A spokesman for Gov. Pataki said nothing has been ruled out in solving the state's fiscal problems. But he is likely to get an earful from ally Mike Long, the chairman of the state Conservative Party, who owns a Brooklyn liquor store.

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