Grocers hand out flyers to combat liquor and wine bill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Grocers hand out flyers to combat liquor and wine bill

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky grocery store owners are waging a battle at the checkout aisle.

This week, many grocers began handing out flyers to customers, urging them to call their lawmakers and vote "no" on House Bill 310  - a bill that would essentially block grocers from selling wine or liquor. It's the latest in their long-standing battle to sell packaged liquor.

But supporters argue the bill would protect teens from further exposure to underage drinking by preventing liquor or wine sales in places like groceries, pawn shops, truck stops, or gas stations and new pharmacies. (Under the bill, current pharmacies that allow packaged liquor sales would be grandfathered in.) 

Jerry Rogers, a Louisville liquor store owner and president of the Kentucky Association of Beverage Retailers, supports the bill.

"Fruit Loop flavored vodka, Smores vodka. Is the convenience really worth it? To have kids roaming the aisles? I can't have anyone under 21 in here," Rogers said.

In the flyers, grocery stores like Kroger and Valumarket claim "Kentucky remains one of the few states where beer is the only alcohol choice available for grocery shoppers."

"I really feel like (the underage drinking angle) is a guise, that they are using the kid angle - when that's not really the case," said James Neumann, vice president of ValuMarket. 

Rogers said, "We didn't call it a charade. And the 16 people in the House who voted on it didn't call it a charade."

House Bill 310 passed through a House committee Thursday. Neumann, the vice president of ValuMarket, thinks it's about liquor stores protecting their assets - not kids.

"They're not going after beers sales, or cigarette sales, they're not going after fatty foods or anything else we sell to kids. They're going after wine and spirits that groceries want to sell tomorrow," he said.

The bill will remain in the House for further action. A legislative aide did not know if it would be placed in orders of the day for Tuesday when lawmakers return to Frankfort following a long weekend.

Rep. Dennis Keene, the bill's primary sponsor, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Last summer, a federal judge in Louisville ruled that Kentucky's law that banned liquor and wine sales from grocery stores was unconstitutional. That ruling has been put on hold while the battle of works its way through the General Assembly.

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