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Bourbon, Beer and Wine Bill Appears Headed for Final Passage

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

A bill seeking to make many changes to Kentucky’s alcohol laws appears to be moving toward final passage.

The omnibus alcohol measure allows for increased production by small farm wineries and microbreweries, and aims to ease certain restrictions on the bourbon industry.

“Almost really in every category - the distilleries, small farm wineries, and craft breweries - everybody got something but nobody got everything they wanted,” said Sen. John Schickel of Union - the bill's sponsor.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory says the legislation works to benefit sample and retail sales at distilleries, and includes a provision to allow a local vote on locating distilleries in dry counties.

“It’s gonna create a lot of jobs in the commonwealth,” Gregory said. “It’s gonna increase tourism. It will level the playing field with our distilleries and the beer and wine industry and it’s a big step out of prohibition for Kentucky.”

Gregory said Kentucky still has antiquated alcohol laws compared to other states.

The move toward passage comes following House action Wednesday on legislation to further crack down on drunken driving. State Rep. David Osborne says the two bills are not mutually exclusive.

“It’s good policy for us to continue to strengthen our laws against drunk driving and I think it’s also good policy to allow our businesses to continue to grow,” Osborne said.

Schickel said he doesn’t think the lengthy bill will need to go to conference committee before being given final approval.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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