A federal appeals court has reinstated a 76-year-old old ban on grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers selling wine and liquor in Kentucky after finding the law doesn't violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a decision by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in 2012 to lift the restriction.
Judge Deborah L. Cook wrote for the court that the state "indisputably maintains a legitimate interest" in reducing access to high-alcohol content products.
A Louisville convenience store, Maxwell's Pic-Pac, and the Food with Wine Coalition challenged the ban in a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2011. The plaintiffs said the law treated them differently from package liquor stores simply because they sold food and other staples.
College football season begins this weekend and Kentucky’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says investigators will be out in force, looking for underage people drinking alcohol before and after games.
Director Mike Razor says the tailgating scene provides a different kind of challenge for investigators.
“In a controlled environment in licensed premises it’s easier because the licensee is our friend and they want to make sure they’re not serving underage kids,” said Razor. “But in a tailgating scenario, you’ve got a whole lot of people out there and there’s no one really in control.”
He says those caught providing alcohol to minors could face jail time. Investigators will be patrolling tailgate parties and stores near college campuses where football games are being played.
A Kentucky legislative leader says progress on reforming the state’s liquor laws is slow going. Last year, a federal judge threw out the state law that blocks grocery stores and gas stations from selling wine and spirits.
That same judge later stayed his ruling to prevent a sudden surge in liquor retailers and to allow Kentucky lawmakers to re-write the regulations. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says so far, no one has put forward a proposal to properly address the issue.
“Everyone hopes that there will be some sort of reasonable proposal from the entire industry that takes in consideration the court’s ruling. To date I haven’t seen that.”
Some southeastern Kentucky residents say campaigns on a vote that could allow alcohol sales in the community have taken a negative turn. McCreary County voters head to the polls next Tuesday to decide the controversial issue.
Bourbon and barbecue are teaming up next month in Danville to benefit Heart of Kentucky United Way. The second annual Kentucky State Barbecue Festival on Sept. 7 will feature a charity bourbon barrel auction.
A federal judge's ruling could open the door to the sale of hard liquor and wine in grocery stores. Currently state law allows grocery stores to only sell beer, while liquor stores and drug stores can sell beer, wine and liquor.
A Northern Kentucky lawmaker will again try to reverse a ban on alcohol sales on election days. Democratic Representative Arnold Simpson will present his proposal to an interim legislative committee Friday.
The Pulaski County town is the latest in southern Kentucky to schedule a local option vote. Residents will head to the polls June 26th to cast ballots on whether to allow restaurants and package sales in the city. The date was set after the group "Progress Somerset" turned in petitions with enough signatures favoring the referendum.