Bill may keep liquor out of stores

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - House Bill 310's supporters say its aimed at keeping high-alcohol content drinks away from children. Its opponents, though, say it would end up hurting the consumer.

The bill would prohibit minors from going into any store selling malt beverages, distilled spirits, or wine unless they had a parent or guardian with them.

"It boils down to protecting the children and that's all it's about," said Representative Dennis Keene. The Democrat from Kentucky's 67th District said it's meant for convenience stores and gas stations where a low level of supervision could lead to kids stealing the liquor and getting hurt.

"When we see these overdoses of children with alcohol it's usually hard liquor where they have more drinks than just a couple of beers and they don't realize it," said Keene.

Ted Mason is the executive director of the Kentucky Grocers Association. They oppose the bill.

"We think that it is primarily a response from the liquor store industry to protect their virtual monopoly of packaged alcohol sales," he said.

In the past, grocery stores had to set up separate entrances and sales areas for wine and liquor even though they could sell beer inside. Last year, a federal judge overturned that rule, allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell liquor and wine. Right now it's under appeal. This bill, they say, would put them right back where they were.

"It's unfair that we are being restricted from that marketplace," said Mason.

Right now, the bill is in a rules committee. The next step for it would be to come out of that committee and be voted on in the House.