A judge rejected Arkansas liquor store proprietors' request to block the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control board from issuing permits to grocery retailers Tuesday, meaning those stores will be permitted to sell all types of wine.
Because Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller denied the proprietors' 14th Amendment equal protection claim, businesses such as Wal-Mart and Kroger will be able to expand their offerings beyond small-farm wines, as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
Liquor store owners had argued they would lose income if the permits were granted, court records show. But Miller ruled that liquor stores and grocery stores were not similarly situated, citing a law stating that no more than 20 percent of a grocery store's revenue can come from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Additionally, permit fees will go to the Arkansas Legislature to support wine production and tourism in the state, court documents state.
Miller ruled against arguments that the law allowing grocery stores to receive permits conflicts with previous legislation and that wine permits should be limited to single-location grocery stores.
Mary Robin Casteel, director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, testified Monday that the agency has received 238 applications for grocery-store wine permits, but that only 217 of the applicants are eligible for consideration when the board meets Wednesday, because she requires an application to be turned in 30 days before it is considered.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.