Lawmakers trade shots over bourbon bill

05/25/2010 04:33 PM

So far in this special session, it’s been a bill about bourbon tasting that has caused more political friction than even the unfinished two-year state budget.

Rep. Larry Clark

Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, and Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, exchanged some tough talk after a committee meeting Tuesday in which the bill allowing distilleries to offer bourbon tasting at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games was being taken up, according to the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader.

The newspapers reported that Clark pushed for an amendment that would set an expiration date for the legislation on Oct. 31. Westrom, according to the reports, accused Clark of trying to kill her bill out of revenge against the distilleries for not backing one of Clark’s bills this spring that would have allowed liquor sales at state parks.

The developments caused quite a stir around the Capitol, especially when some lawmakers, including House

Rep. Susan Westrom

Speaker Greg Stumbo, said the sunset clause in the amended version of the bourbon bill might violate the Gov. Steve Beshear’s official agenda for the special session.

The original version of Westrom’s bill — and what Beshear called for — allowed the tasting only at counties have a certain population, have a large convention center and allow Sunday liquor sales, for instance.

“The governor’s call actually speaks to a permanent type of license, and if you’re going to limit it to where you know it’s only going to happen in a few places, why would you even want to sunset it?” Stumbo said. “There is a concern among legislators who would fear that this might be something that would occur in their home counties or their home district. But the limitations take care of that concern.”

Stumbo said Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, is working on an amendment that will remove the sunset provision — a move that he said Clark would support.

Once amended, the bill should pass the House on Wednesday, Stumbo said.

“I don’t understand why there’s such a hassle about that whole bill,” he said. “I think it will pass and it will be in pretty good shape.”

- Ryan Alessi


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