By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear’s new task force to study state alcoholic beverage laws will take a limited approach in what it tackles, said chairman Robert Vance Wednesday at the panel’s first meeting.
Vance, secretary of the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, told the 22-member task force that it cannot fix in four months all the state’s complex, sometimes confusing state laws that govern alcoholic beverages.
The group will only recommend changes to the laws when it has reached a consensus, he said.
“The focus here is baby steps,” Vance said, noting that its measure of success will be the passage of new legislation.
The task force will concentrate on three major areas: licensing, public safety and local option election laws that let residents in certain areas decide if they want to sell alcoholic beverages or not.
Vance warned that if no task force recommendation is accepted by the governor and state legislature, the industry will be hurt.
With the passage of some legislation in the 2013 General Assembly, he said, additional task forces on the issue may be formed to look at other alcohol laws.
Larry Bond, Beshear’s deputy chief of staff, said the governor does not expect the task force “to hear every ill of alcohol laws over the last 75 years.”
“If we’re successful here, we hope to do more,” he said.
The task force is to report its recommendations to Beshear by Jan. 15. It is to hold several committee meetings and three public forums in mid-October. Exact locations and times for the forums have not yet been determined, but they will be Oct. 15, 16 and 18 and in the northern, eastern and western parts of the state.