Packaged liquor vote set for July 17

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

County-Judge Executive Larry Elkins ordered an election be held for the total distribution of packaged liquor in the city of Murray for July 17, 2012.

The vote follows a successful campaign of Grow Murray, a local group of individuals pushing for legalized packaged liquor sales in the city.

Following KRS 242.125 and all subsections, the ballot will read as follows: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Murray?”

Those in favor will be choosing to bring packaged liquor stores, beer to convenience stores and 50/50 food-to-alcohol ratios for local restaurants seating 100-plus people, and those against will be choosing to keep Murray as limited restaurant status under 70/30 food-to-alcohol ratios with no packaged liquor sales.

While special elections must be held no fewer than 60 days but no more than 90 days after the ratification of a petition, the set date easily passes the 90-day requirement after the petition was cleared by the city.

Ray Coursey, county clerk, said the main reason for the delay of the vote is the May primary election held on May 22.

“A special election cannot be held within 30 days before or after a primary,” Coursey said. “The 30 days before and after a primary are blacked out and the date for a vote is moved accordingly.”

After the blackout, Coursey said the city will take into account 12 days of absentee voting and one week to reprogram voting booths after the May primary, thus setting the final date for July 17.

Coursey said he anticipates things to get heated up as the election draws closer.

“There’s always a good turnout for something like this,” he said. “The last time this vote happened was in 1988 and before that it was 1985.”

A Grow Murray committee met Tuesday evening to discuss how the group would move forward from the success of the petition and prepare for the coming vote.

“We would like to raise money and simply raise awareness of the election date,” the committee said. “We feel the argument is obvious to a certain extent, but we feel that getting the word out about the vote is crucial.”

The committee discussed the proper allocation of donations and group fundraising, while the ideas of T-shirts, signage, advertisements, bumper stickers and other general promotion of the voting day methods were tabled in conversation.

“There is still a lot of misinformation out there,” the committee said. “We want to be able to effectively communicate actual data and actual facts.”

The committee agreed on doing whatever it takes to make the campaign a successful one.

Said the committee: “(It will take) whatever we feel is necessary to effectively communicate the merits of the initiative and the true facts behind what it is we are trying to do. We’ve got the resources for T-shirts, bumper stickers and things like that.”


Inside the story

On March 2, 2010, the Department for Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) held a regulations workshop with Danville, Ky., residents to discuss interpretations of state alcohol restrictions.

Danville city residents were posed with the same question Murray residents are asking now: does voting ‘no’ remove liquor sales from the city entirely?

Their vote, which was to upgrade to total distribution from limited restaurant sales congruent with Murray, was worded exactly as the July 17 vote will be worded.

“Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Danville?” it read.

Residents were concerned by the wording of the question and sought the clarification through ABC regulation.

While state law is generally up for interpretation, ABC officials gave their insight on the Danville issue during the presentation.

“The ballot question is not perceived to be misleading because it is different from the question voters were asked in a previous election,” they said. “Voters are not now being asked to repeal that vote.”

In 2000, Murray residents voted for limited restaurant alcohol sales following 70/30 food-to-alcohol ratios, and since the July 17 vote pertains only to the full distribution of alcohol, it can be considered a different vote altogether.