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Direct shipment of alcohol bill heading to governor

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation Thursday that would allow direct shipment of alcohol.

The measure, known as House Bill 415, was lauded as a tax revenue generator, job creator and a new source of business for distilleries, wineries and breweries by Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown.

“Right now the bourbon tourism industry is flat on its back, closed because of COVID-19,” he said. “The same goes for tours of small-farm wineries and our craft brew locations around the state. This will create a new revenue stream for those producers on the other side of this COVID-19 crisis.”

HB 415 passed the Senate today by a 21-11 vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, and Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, previously passed the House by a 52-33 vote.

The legislation would allow distillers, wineries, breweries — in or outside of Kentucky — to get licensed with Kentucky to ship directly to consumers. Retailers and distributors wouldn’t be eligible for the direct-to-consumer shipping licenses.

It would impose shipping limits that are lower than the amount of alcohol one can purchase in person at a producer. The shipping limits would be 10 liters of distilled spirits, 10 cases of wine and 10 cases of malt beverages per month.

Packages of alcohol would have to be clearly labeled and be signed for by someone 21 or older. SB 415 would also prohibit shipping to “dry territories,” areas where alcohol sales are prohibited by law.

“This direct-shipping bill has been in the work for many years,” Thayer said. “It has been the subject of … a numerous number of interim committee meetings over the past few years and a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get us where we are today.”

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, stood to explain his “yea” vote.

“This bill also corrects something that many, many, many Kentuckians are very concerned about,” said Schickel, chairman of the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. “I hear about it all the time. That is people who want to order wine, to have wine shipped to Kentucky from various locations. This will correct that problem once and for all.”