And Just Like That…

liquor

(photo from www.roadsidepeek.com)

it appears that the bill that would allow Kentucky grocery stores to sell wine that we told you about yesterday (in the Local News update) is toast:

Legislation to allow wine sales in Kentucky grocery stores appeared dead yesterday after a key House member said she didn’t plan to bring it to a vote.

House Bill 585, sponsored by state Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, would have allowed wine sales in 350 to 400 grocery stores statewide. Supporters estimated that the change would produce $55 million in new tax revenue for the state over the next five years.

But one of Clark’s fellow Jefferson County lawmakers, Rep. Joni Jenkins, chair of the Licensing & Occupations Committee, said yesterday that she didn’t plan to give the bill a hearing because it arrived too late in the session. Jenkins did not elaborate.

Though procedural reasons are cited by Jenkins, perhaps the move by local grocery stores to expand into wine sales frightened liquor stores into taking action:

Luke Schmidt, a consultant for the nonprofit Food with Wine Coalition, said the legislation would help Kentucky farmers who are moving away from tobacco and into wine production. In Illinois, Indiana and Virginia, he said, the top wine sold in grocery stores is produced in-state.

But liquor-store owners in Kentucky questioned the coalition’s revenue estimates and predicted that the benefit to local growers and vintners would be minimal.

Jerry Rogers, owner of Party Mart and other liquor stores in Louisville, said less than 1 percent of his wine sales come from Kentucky labels. He noted that the growth in tax revenue from wine in grocery stores could be offset by declining sales of liquor sold in package stores.

Roger Leasor, president of Liquor Barn, based in Lexington, said supporters of the bill were trying to “fix something that’s not broken.” Grocers already can sell beer, he said, and they can sell wine in stores that have a separate entrance from the space where they sell food.

Personally, I’d like to buy wine at both kinds of establishments. It ain’t that big a deal, but it is convenient to buy a good wine at the same time you’re buying food, for pairing. Oh well.

UPDATE: The ‘Ville Voice has posted a good read about how the local television news coverage of the wine bill was fundamentally flawed, ie. the bill was doomed well before the 6 pm newscasts could cover it. Also, at the end of the post there’s a suggestion that perhaps the real story is in the why, not the when:

So who wants to bet on whether or not the stations follow up with a story on the issue today, now that the bill is dead? They might want to read the comments under Davis’ story for some ideas for an angle — readers wonder whether Jenkins has received political contributions from the spirits industry. Jenkins’ lame excuse for holding up the bill — that it arrived too late — sounds an awful lot like a political maneuver.

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5 Responses to “And Just Like That…”

  1. I have no confirmation, only rumor, that one of the major roadblocks to us getting a Trader Joe’s is the fact they grocery stores can’t sell wine here. For that reason alone I really want to see wine sales in grocery stores.

  2. Aldi in Indiana sells wine. Ups to Winking Owl. Boo to 2-buck chuck!

  3. stateofthecommonwealth Says:

    if going to a separate liquor store seems inconvenient, going to Indiana is kinda out of the question. Not that I don’t dine at Rich-o’s or La Rosita every once in a while (I do), but shop for groceries there? No thanks.

  4. This is a complex issue that the grocers are trying to dumb down. I resent that.

    This is about local economics (locally owned businesses being compromised or bankrupted by out-of-state grocery concerns).

    This is about a cynical attempt by the grocers to use the fledgling Kentucky wine industry as a Trojan horse to get what they want. Their alleged support of Kentucky wine was nonexistent last spring. It lags behind the efforts of local package stores now. It will likely fade to insignificance after they get what they want.

    But mostly, it’s about public safety.

    Grocers don’t want to hire adults: local package stores are required to by law. Grocers want to sell wine with a staff of teenagers as they currently do with beer. It’s wrong for beer. It’s much more wrong for wine. Grocers want open aisles of alcohol through which people of all ages may wander and shop. Local package stores must prohibit minors from being in their stores unless accompanied by their parents. Enforcement agents upon seeing a teenager go into a package store and coming out with a bag are virtually certain that a crime is been committed. Not true if that teenager goes into a grocery store.

    This is not about convenience, it’s about public safety.

    There is nothing that needs to be fixed. Grocers can today sell all the wine they want in their separate wine shops (currently about 40 of them), staffed by and patronized by adults. If they fail in this attempt, they lose nothing. If they succeed, Kentucky money, currently in Kentucky hands, paying Kentucky salaries and paying Kentucky taxes will flow out of state to Ohio (Kroger), Michigan (Meijers), Arkansas (Wal-Mart) and Washington State (Costco).

    “Convenience” seems like a petty concern in the face of the larger issues.

  5. My source with Trader Joe’s (a publicist with the company’s contracted agency, rather) tells me the wine issue isn’t what’s kept Trader Joe’s out of Kentucky. They’ve been in loose discussion to open a store in the Louisville Metro Area for some time.

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