FRANKFORT, Ky. – How would you like to have alcohol shipped directly to your door?
A bill being filed for the 2020 General Assembly Session would allow just that.
Currently, in Kentucky, only certain small farm wineries can ship directly to the consumer. Legislation to be filed by Northern Kentucky Republican Adam Koenig would allow for all alcohol to be shipped to a consumer’s doorstep.
Koenig said it’s about bringing parity to the state.
“We’re trying to do things to say alcohol, is alcohol, is alcohol,” Rep. Koenig told a legislative committee. “And if you can ship one you should be able to ship them all.”
The bill would allow for any in-state business that has a license such as distilleries, breweries or wineries to ship the product directly to a customer’s door, both in state and out of state. Out of state license holders would also be able to ship alcohol directly to Kentuckians.
Companies would have to hold licensure and submit carrier reporting with the state to ensure they are following the law and paying taxes. Koenig says it would also maintain the three-tier system.
But it would only be allowed to ship to areas where alcohol is legal so Kentuckians in dry counties would be barred from shipments.
Koenig says it’s about time Kentucky gets on board with the delivery culture.
“We live in an Amazon world and I think it’s time we move our alcohol into that. It removes artificial barriers to competition and it makes us very competitive nationwide, especially for our signature industry,” Koenig said.
Beverage retailers, however, have concerns about being out of the process while still being required to pay no less than $2,000 a year to be able to sell alcohol in Kentucky. In comparison, the shipper’s license would be $100. For many beverage retailers, they are also required to pay an additional regulatory fee which essentially a gross recipients tax on alcohol
“They range from four percent all the way up to eight percent. It is a fee and it is only allowed on establishments located in the community. So when you have an out of state shipper shipping into the community you have a distillery or winery or brewery delivering or shipping into the community they aren’t paying it,” said Karen Lentz, Executive Director of the Kentucky Beverage Retailers Association. “So, in essence, the retailers in that area are going to be paying to get the DUI’s and the domestic violence and all the other incidents that occur because of alcohol being shipped in. Not just that they are selling, but if Amazon is shipping into the community or a distillery from outside the community is shipping in, the local retailers and restaurants are paying the tax for the administration and enforcement of alcohol and we just believe that is unfair.”
Not all lawmakers in the committee are completely on board with the idea yet. Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, expressed concerns about the low cost for a shipping license versus the distributor license.
“Local distributors pay about $2,000 for their license fee; doesn’t this put them at a disadvantage?” Burch said.
Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, also expressed concern over treating all alcohol the same.
“I don’t necessarily agree with your premise that all alcohol is the same, and I don’t think it’s viewed by the public as being the same,” Sen. Schickel said. “You mentioned the wine direct shipment bill last year, I think in the public’s mind, and I’m not sure, I’m still making up my mind, but in the public’s mind there is a difference between hard spirits and wine and beer.”
Any alcohol being shipped would have to be clearly labeled as such, and would not able to be left on a doorstep. A person with a valid ID is required to sign for the package.
A bill to allow the wine to be shipped directly to customers failed to gain approval during the 2019 session.