If a federal judge's ruling goes into effect, businesses that sell liquor in Kentucky may see increased competition — and those businesses are encouraging legislators to act before an appeals decision comes down. Judge John Heyburn tossed the laws last year, saying it was unconstitutional to allow places like drug stores to sell some wine and liquor, but not groceries.
But Heyburn put that ruling on hold to let lawmakers re-write the laws. Since that point, interested groups have been working on solutions to keep a free-for-all for liquor licenses across the state from happening.
State Senate President Robert Stivers says he wants to wait on an appeals ruling in the case are finished before lawmakers tackle the issue.
But Roger Leasor, the Director of Community Relations with Liquor Barn, a company that owns many liquor stores across Kentucky, says that a bad idea.
Leasor says if lawmakers fail to act in 2013, then gas stations and dollar stores will rush to grab liquor licenses if the ruling is upheld on appeal.
“And I would predict that those licenses will be in play within days after Judge Heyburn is upheld, if he is,” he says.
Leasor says his goal to keep liquor out of places where minors are frequent visitors and is encouraging lawmakers to tackle the issue this year to stop that.
“The access to teens is going to skyrocket as high-proof alcohol begins to appear in more and more types of stores,” Leasor says.
Many gas stations and dollar stores in Kentucky are eager to sell the products, if the original ruling is upheld. Dollar General, in particular, is already applying for beer licenses across the state.