Legal alcohol sales – the devil is in the details

From the Publisher Jay Nolan
From the Publisher
Jay Nolan

Voters have answered the one big question about alcoholic beverage sales. For the first time in approximately 80 years, YES voters gained a majority. So, alcohol sales will be legal in Barbourville later this year.

But many questions still remain unanswered. Why? Simply because state officials at the office of Alcoholic Beverage Control and Barbourville City Officials could not coordinate a meeting last week. “But aren’t the rules already in place?” some asked.

Well, yes, there clearly are state laws guiding alcohol sales. Trust me, there are lots and lots of laws. And some questions about alcohol sales can be answered simply by checking out the Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control website. But Kentucky’s rules are complicated.

For example, consider just a basic state license. The ABC website explains that there are 84 different license types in our state! That’s right, 84. And a license is valid for only one year. Then one must follow more rules to renew it.

Plus, on top of all the state laws, Kentucky requires cities to have an ABC administrator. That administrator must approve all license applications before they will even be reviewed by the state. In addition to appointing an administrator, our city must also establish some local rules governing alcohol sales. (For example: Will the city allow sales on Sunday?)

City attorney Chris Mills made it very clear at Thursday’s city council meeting that before he, the mayor, or the city council take any actions on this, they need to meet with the state ABC folks and review all their options and fully understand the rules. That may happen this week.

I know several in attendance at last week’s city council meeting were disappointed over his comments. They feel like they won, and want to get things moving quickly. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

So personally, I applaud the city’s decision. As I have stated in this column before, our city must handle alcohol responsibly. Our leaders are right to proceed carefully. They need to get all the expertise, advice and wise council they can. And I think they need to be open, fair, transparent and thoughtful in their decisions instead of rushing to make rules they may regret later.

What do you think?