New ‘direct ship’ alcohol law not quite all ‘cheers’ yet

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Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, speaking about regulations required to implement House Bill 415, which allows brewers, distillers and vintners – in and out of Kentucky – to ship alcohol directly to consumers.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Don’t “cheers” just yet to a new law that would allow brewers, distillers and vintners to ship alcohol directly to consumers.

It’s going to take time to implement, Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commissioner Allyson Taylor said while testifying before Thursday’s meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations.

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Committee Co-chair Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, said the proposed regulations required under HB 415 were submitted on July 14 to the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee. He added he hopes the regulations are implemented in time for the Christmas shopping season.

“As far as how long it takes to implement after that I believe it will depend on the public comments and how many changes we implement,” Taylor said in response, noting the computer system required for producers to apply for shipping licenses is ready to go.

Dubbed the direct ship bill, House Bill 415 from this past session clears the path for producers of alcohol – in and out of Kentucky – to be licensed with ABC to ship directly to consumers. No more than 10 liters of distilled spirits, 10 cases of wine and 10 cases of malt beverages per month could be shipped to an individual.

The packages would have to be clearly labeled and be signed for by someone 21 or older. And shipping to dry territories, communities where alcohol sales are prohibited by local laws, would still be banned.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said he has heard from retailers, wholesalers and distributors concerned some language in the proposed regulation may allow out-of-state wholesalers and distributors to sell in Kentucky.

Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, said she too has heard concern about how out-of-state importers will work into the proposed regulations.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he wanted to make sure ABC follows the legislative intent of HB 514. Taylor responded that ABC had three goals when drafting the proposed regulations.

The objectives were to implement the legislative intent, make sure Kentucky producers and suppliers are on the same footing as their out-of-state competitors and to respect the three-tier system.

Thayer then characterized HB 415 one of the most important bills we passed last session.

“As everyone knows, because of COVID-19 our bourbon tourism venues are pretty much flat on their back,” Thayer said. “We all know downtown Louisville is pretty much shut down because of the riots and there is a lot of bourbon tourism down there. Anything we can do to open up another revenue stream for the bourbon industry is incredibly important, but I do support making sure we got this right.”