One of the many new Kentucky laws taking effect July 15 allows distillers, vintners, and brewers in and out of the state to ship their products directly to consumers.

But don’t get that shot glass out too fast.

The sponsor of House Bill 415, Rep. Adam Koenig, an Erlanger Republican, said this week that the state first must come up with regulations to administer the new law.

He hopes it doesn’t take long, “but you never know during this COVID-19,” he said. “I’d like to present them to a committee this month but it may take longer.”

Direct shipment of alcoholic beverages from producers to consumers is one of 124 new laws emanating from this year’s Kentucky General Assembly out of 932 bills.

Some of them contained “emergency” clauses, meaning they took effect immediately. Some have delayed time to take effect, but most go into effect 90 days after the end of the session. This year that is July 15.

Koenig’s alcohol measure certainly impacts consumers.

Kentuckians have been able to get alcoholic beverages from other countries shipped to their homes, said Koenig.

“You wanted champagne from France. You could get it delivered,” he said.

But if you wanted whiskey from a producer in Tennessee or any other state sent to your home, you were out luck, he said.

The new law, which Gov. Andy Beshear let become law without his signature, was a major victory for Kentucky alcohol manufacturers, said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. It represents the commonwealth’s signature bourbon industry. Kentucky’s distilleries produce 95% of the world’s bourbon.

“Kentucky took another bold step forward in its continued leadership to modernize the spirits industry and end Prohibition-era policies” with the legislation, said Gregory.

He said the legislation was built on a measure two years ago that allowed visitors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries to ship bottles home.

“Now, under HB 415, our distilleries will be able to ship spirits directly to consumers in reciprocal states through online and telephone orders, a privilege that the wine industry has enjoyed for decades,” he said.

He said the law is now “the model for direct-to-consumer spirits shipping in the country and provides a sound regulatory framework that ensures responsibility, the proper collection of taxes and provides enforcement tools necessary for compliance with all laws.”

Not everyone in the alcoholic beverages industry likes the new law, said Koenig, referring to wholesalers and retailers.

He said his bill originally allowed wholesalers and retailers to ship their products directly to consumers.

“But they asked me to take that out,” he said. “They didn’t want the competition.”

He said he would “be willing to talk to them again” in next year’s General Assembly “if they want to be included in the direct shipment.”

Michelle Korsmo, president of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Voices, said the new state law “threatens the integrity of a smartly regulated marketplace for alcohol that has protected consumers for generations. “

She said wholesalers raised concerns during this year’s legislative session about “the wide-reaching expansion of a marketplace that will be difficult to regulate and increases opportunities for fraud, and illicit products getting into the hands of unsuspecting consumers.”

“It hard to believe, in the midst of a pandemic, the Kentucky legislature rushed to push dramatic changes to the manner in which people buy and sell alcohol while people’s attention was understandably focused elsewhere,” she said. “We are disappointed that with this dramatic change, they failed to include the regulatory safeguards necessary to identify and crack down on illegal shipments.”

Koenig said the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is working on regulations to make sure the new law is implemented properly. The state ABC did not return phone calls and emails from the Lexington Herald-Leader seeking comment.

Charles George, executive director of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky, said direct-to-consumer shipments of alcohol will negatively affect Kentucky distributors, wholesalers and package retailers, who employ over 8,000 people.

He said more work needs to be done on the legislation, especially to make sure that alcohol shipped by carriers like UPS and FedEx is properly licensed and taxed.

George also said there are counterfeit products available on the Internet. “Kentucky consumers should be wary of purchasing alcohol online unless it is delivered by a local retailer,” he said.

Under the law, alcohol manufacturers who want to ship directly to consumers would get licensed with the state. Koenig said the state will give carriers a quarterly list of shipping licensees.

Parcel carriers can only ship for manufacturers on the licensed list, he said. Licensees, who are subject to audits, must also provide the state with lists of products they ship.

Koenig said the new law will produce revenue for the state but it’s hard to say how much.

It imposes shipping limits to a customer of 10 liters of distilled spirits, 10 cases of wine and 10 cases of malt beverages per month. The limit is for each adult in the household.

Packages of alcohol would have to be clearly labeled and be signed for by someone 21 or older. There could be no shipping to “dry territories,” places where alcohol sales are prohibited by law.

Here’s a look at some other new state laws that take effect July 15.

VOTER PHOTO ID BILL

Senate Bill 2, pushed by Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, will require voters to present photographic identification at the polls, starting with the Nov. 3 general election.

If a voter does not have a photo ID, they will be able to show another form of ID and affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are qualified to vote. The bill allows poll workers to vouch for a voter they know even if that person has no valid ID. People who request mail-in absentee ballots must also provide a copy of a photo ID, or must complete an affirmation that they are qualified to vote.

Another provision of SB 2 will provide a free state-issued ID card for individuals who are at least 18 and do not have a valid driver’s license.

Gov. Beshear vetoed the bill, saying it makes voting more difficult, but the Republican-controlled legislature overrode his veto. At least two lawsuits have been filed to stop enforcement of the new law.

ANIMAL ABUSE

Under Senate Bill 21, veterinarians will be allowed to report to authorities any abuse of an animal they find under their care. Veterinarians currently are not allowed by law to report abuse of animals under their care unless they have the permission of the animal’s owner or are under a court order.

SEX OFFENDERS

House Bill 204 will prohibit sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a publicly leased playground. Sex offenders must already follow these standards for publicly owned parks.

MENTAL HEALTH

House Bill 153 sets up the Kentucky Mental Health First Aid Training Program to train professionals and members of the public to identify and assist people with mental health or substance abuse problems.

Senate Bill 122 will make a change to Tim’s Law of 2017, a law that has rarely been used by the courts. The law allowed judges to order assisted outpatient treatment for people who had been involuntarily hospitalized at least twice in the past 12 months. SB 122 extends the period to 24 months.

JURORS

Senate Bill 132 will add people with state-issued personal identification cards to the pool of potential jurors in the county where they live. Currently, the pool draws from driver’s license lists, tax rolls and voter registration lists.

INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

House Bill 44, providing security for critical infrastructure across Kentucky, says above-ground natural gas and petroleum pipelines and certain cable television facilities are not suitable areas for drone flights. The legislation also defines tampering with the infrastructure as felony criminal mischief.

TAXING E-CIGS

A new law taxing electronic cigarettes takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

The legislature approved two constitutional amendments that Kentucky voters will decide at the polls in November.

▪ Senate Bill 15, known as Marsy’s Law, would set certain rights for crime victims in the state Constitution.

▪ House Bill 405 would increase the term of office for commonwealth’s attorneys from six years to eight years beginning in 2030 and increase the term of office for district judges from four years to eight years beginning in 2022. It also would increase the experience required to be a district judge from two years to eight years.

{span}Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299{/span}

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.