Monday, June 9, 2003

Ky. opening up to alcohol sales



The Associated Press

Although most Kentucky counties remain dry, the number of cities and counties where voters have approved legal alcohol sales has steadily increased in recent years.

Eight cities and one county have approved alcohol sales since 2000 - almost as many as loosened their dry laws throughout the previous decade, according to state records.

Of the two dozen local-option votes in Kentucky in the 1990s, only 10 succeed, according to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the state Board of Elections.

But state legislators in 2000 changed the local-option law, opening the door to 51 votes on alcohol sales since then.

Legal sales were approved in 28 of those votes. Kentucky now has 30 wet counties and 26 counties with limited legal alcohol sales. Some votes were to limited to allowing sales at businesses, such as restaurants and golf courses; others applied to entire counties.

But the state remains mostly dry. No form of legal sales exists in 64 counties. And even under the 2000 law, voters have chosen to stay dry more often than they've chosen to allow alcohol sales. Of the 21 votes on allowing limited restaurant sales in dry counties, only nine have passed.

For decades, most votes had to encompass all sales, a tough sell in rural areas where teetotaling is encouraged. The last time that happened was in 1994 in Wolfe County. But the limited scope of the latest votes is more acceptable to many people in those areas.

"There wouldn't have been a chance," said Murray city manager Don Elias of whether an all-encompassing proposal would have passed. Murray voters approved restaurant-only sales in November 2000.

City officials say there are a number of possible reasons behind the relaxation of their dry laws. Proponents argue that legal alcohol sales boost tourism and jobs and bring in more residents from wet areas.




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