A bill that would effectively block grocery stores from selling wine and liquor—and ban wine and liquor sales in new pharmacies—was approved today in a state House committee.
Under the legislation, grocery stores could still sell alcohol from an adjoined structure with a separate entrance.
Current law does not allow people younger than 21 to enter a place which sells wine and package liquor, which has prevented sales in grocery stores in the past.
Last year, a federal judge overturned the ban against wine and alcohol in grocery stores. U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn said that it was unfair to ban grocery stores from selling wine and liquor while allowing sales in drug stores.
Work on reforming some of Kentucky’s liquor laws may wait until a federal appeals court rules on a current challenge.
A federal circuit judge threw out state laws dealing with where wine and distilled spirits can be sold, calling them unfair. Currently only select stores — such as liquor stores and pharmacies — can sell those beverages, while others — such as groceries — can only sell beer.
The judge’s ruling challenging that disparity is being appealed to the 6th Circuit and Senate President Robert Stivers wants to wait until that is resolved before his chamber gets involved.
“We have had some discussion of the issue, but we feel it appropriate and it’s my opinion and I feel it appropriate that until it is litigated and gone through the legal system, we don’t know if Judge Heyburn’s decision will be affirmed, or remanded or reversed,” he says.
So far, no proposals on how to change the law that would withstand the judge’s ruling has been put forth, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
A recent ruling by a federal judge has turned Kentucky’s liquor sales environment into a state of confusion. The judge struck down Kentucky laws that prohibit liquor sales in grocery stores and gas stations, calling it unconstitutional. He has since decided to place that ruling on hold to let Kentucky lawmakers see if they can write a better law.