RYO Legislation Fails to Move in New York State

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RYO Legislation Fails to Move in New York State


ALBANY, N.Y. -- A move to tax roll-your-own (RYO) retailers has failed to make it pass the New York State legislature.

A bill to tax loose tobacco used in RYO machines at the same level as traditional cigarettes passed the state Assembly during the legislative session, but failed to make it to the state Senate floor, according to the Associated Press. The legislative session ended Thursday, June 21.

The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) made one final push for legislation classifying RYO businesses as manufacturers, which are subject to higher taxes, the week before the legislators left town for the summer. NYACS issued a statement on Friday, June 15, explaining that there is a "desperate need" for New York to regulate commercial RYO machines, as CSNews Online reported.

To date, officials at the state level and at local levels -- specifically New York City -- have initiated lawsuits against RYO establishments alleging the stores violate law and regulatory statutes. However, New York State does not have legislation in place.

According to the Associated Press report, RYO Filling Station, also known as Roll Your Own Machine of Girard, Ohio, hired lobbyist firm Park Strategies for $10,000 month. Former Sen. Alphonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) is a lobbyist with the firm and he reportedly met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late February.

The bill to make these roll-your-own cigarettes at stores subject to cigarette taxes died in a Senate committee; the state Senate is controlled by Republicans. But the company is still lobbying because the bill might come up in a special session in November, the report added.

"We had been working diligently with the governor's office," Bea Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the RYO company, said. "We hired Park early. We have been trying to educate legislators ... they have just been extremely effective."

A Park Strategies spokeswoman declined to comment for the report.

The state Senate's Republican majority has opposed the measure as a tax increase. Senate majority spokesman Scott Reif had no immediate comment on this measure, according to the Associated Press.