Kentucky Lawmakers React to Ruling on Grocery Store Liquor Sales

FRANKFORT — A federal appeals court has struck down a 2012 decision that lifted a ban on Kentucky grocery stores selling liquor and wine.

On this issue, the chatter in Frankfort suggests that a legislative challenge to that ruling, if it happens, isn’t likely to fare well.

Rep. Dennis Keene is the chairman of the House committee on Licensing and Occupations, which concerns itself with alcoholic beverage laws. Keene says that Kentucky is still a religious state, and most lawmakers are happy with the court’s decision.

“An alcohol vote in the General Assembly is a very volatile vote for most politicians,” Keene says. “Most of the time in the House, you’ll be lucky if you get 52, 53 votes, for any kind of alcohol expansion.”

Had the lower court ruling been upheld, Keene was prepared to introduce a bill that he says had overwhelming support from colleagues that would’ve banned those sales once and for all.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says although the issue is still up for an appeal, he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bill introduced to re-allow liquor sales in groceries.

“Now that there’s some finality to it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see a piece of legislation on it. It needs to be put to bed one way or the other,” Stumbo says.

A spokesman for the Food with Wine Coalition says the group is reviewing the ruling, and has not yet decided whether to appeal.

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