This is the first post in a series on occupational and business licensing.
Passed in 1926 during the Prohibition, opponents of the Cabaret Law hailed it as antiquated and unnecessary, and disadvantageous to unlicensed businesses — of which there are many. On the other hand, supporters cited safety and noise concerns.
While opponents of the law were ultimately successful — the Council voted 41 to 1 to repeal the law, which now goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio who is supportive of the repeal — this fight over an outdated law is a useful prism through which to view general business regulation.
After all, similar regulations, and corresponding debates about their effectiveness, remain prevalent across many other industries (though they likely lack the wonderful signage of the Cabaret Law).
Liquor, automobiles, caskets, taxis, and orthodontics are but a few of the industries similarly restricted by occupational or business licensing laws.