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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- This week's ruling against Kentucky's ban on the sale of wine and liquor at gas stations, grocery stores and other retailers may have an effect outside the state. Neighboring Tennessee may also see rejuvenated efforts to dismantle similar restrictions, according to a Leaf-Chronicle report.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II found that Kentucky's law, which dates back 70 years, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, as CSNews Online reported. However, he also ordered that the ban should remain in effect while other legal issues are resolved.
This ruling should come as a "wake-up call to legislators that these state laws do need to change," said Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association. However, Springer added that it is not likely his association will also go to court of the matter, as Tennessee restricts liquor and wine stores from selling other products, rather than explicitly banning retailers like grocery stores from selling liquor. But the court ruling may provide it with more support as it seeks to create change legislatively.
"Obviously that does impact any state that is starting to take a look at state laws and how they're written," Springer said. "It would be the sixth state of the eight that border us that allow these types of sales. Tax dollars are going to leave our state from our northern border and go up there."
Despite the encouraging sign, it's too early to say what effect the ruling will have in neighboring states, said Josh Hammond, president of The Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association. "There's no question that it concerns me," he said. "The big thing is that anything that happens at the state level, it does have repercussions throughout the whole country. And states do take notice of this."
Tennessee Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), who has introduced legislation that would have lightened liquor restrictions in the past, expressed feelings of encouragement after the ruling. "I think that sends a huge signal for the possible passage for legislation here in Tennessee," he said. Ketron plans to introduce another bill during the next session, according to the report.