Sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, HB 415 passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 29-5 and now heads to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk for consideration. It passed the House last month by an overwhelming 82-15 margin.
KDA President Eric Gregory said there are now more than 15 states looking to introduce or expand their direct-to-consumer efforts which will create many new reciprocal markets to ship the commonwealth’s coveted Kentucky bourbon, craft beer, small farm wine and other spirits.
HB 415 will allow the use of third-party fulfillment centers to efficiently ship bottles; set a level playing field for state tax collection on distillery gift shop sales; and establish guidelines for shipping alcohol samples to media, business and marketing partners, among other measures.
The General Assembly sent two other KDA legislative priorities to the governor on Friday.
SB 67, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, makes permanent the popular “take-home cocktails” that have been a lifeline to restaurants and the hospitality industry during the pandemic. It passed the Senate 28-7 and the House 67-27.
“The cocktail movement has been one of the main drivers behind the bourbon renaissance as bartenders – and even burgeoning home bartenders – have discovered the elegance and complexity of our premium small batch and single barrel whiskies in crafting mixed drinks,” Gregory said.
“Our restaurant, bar and hospitality partners have been decimated by the pandemic and continue to struggle in the recovery. They are tremendously important to our signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry, so we have been thrilled to offer our full support and advocacy to this key bill.”SB 68, also sponsored by Sen. Schickel, strengthens Kentucky’s workforce development efforts by exempting educational institutions from the state’s 600-gallon production requirement for licensure in their hands-on distilling courses. It passed the Senate 32-2 and the House 78-15.
Although Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, there are now more than 3,500 distilleries in all 50 states, Gregory said. Distilling is the highest taxed industry in Kentucky, and remains the only place in the world that taxes aging barrels of spirits.
“There are a dozen states that now have more distilleries than Kentucky, but none can match our 200-year history and heritage of crafting the world’s finest bourbon,” he said. “Still, we must remain vigilant and progressive each and every year in order to maintain our historic distilling monopoly.”
Gregory also cheered Koenig, Chairman of the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee, for his leadership and transparency with all interested parties in the passage of HB 415.