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Lawmakers May Not Fight Court Ruling on Liquor Ban in Grocery Stores

Kentucky lawmakers may seek a legislative solution to the dispute over whether grocery and convenience stores should be allowed to sell liquor and wine.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court’s ruling that allowed wine and liquor to be sold in grocery stores and gas stations across the commonwealth.

Northern Kentucky Representative Dennis Keene chairs the House’s committee on Licensing and Occupations. He said if the appeals court had upheld the decision and lifted the ban, lawmakers were ready to respond.

“If the higher court had ruled with the lower court, we were prepared to legislatively go in there and get involved legislatively,” Keene said. “We were prepared to pass legislation that would prohibit this expansion of alcohol.”

Keene said 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,” he said. “Most of the time in the House, you’ll be lucky if you get 52, 53 votes, for any kind of alcohol expansion.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he won't be surprised if lawmakers decide to settle the issue in the legislature.

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

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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