Court Rebuffs Challenge to New Arkansas Wine Reform


Arkansas recently enacted reforms that would allow grocery stores in the state to sell wine (they can already sell beer), but some incumbent liquor store owners sought to challenge the new law via litigation. According to The Arkansas Times, however, a federal judge has rejected a preliminary injunction in the case:

"Federal Judge Brian Miller has denied a request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit by retail liquor stores attempting to block a state law taking effect Thursday that allows permitted grocery stores to sell all types of wine, not just Arkansas and so-called small batch wines. 

The judge also dismissed the liquor store claims of a U.S. constitutional equal protection violation — that is, that differences in regulation for liquor stores and grocery stores were unfair.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has more than 200 applications for grocery store wine sales under the 2017 law. It was a product of some dickering between grocery stores and so-called county line liquor stores. Those liquor stores went along with the new law in return for a promise that retail grocers wouldn't continue a county-by-county effort to vote "dry" counties wet and thus open them to competition to liquor stores perched at their borders — such as the Conway County liquor stores that do huge business with people from "dry" Faulkner County..."

Read the rest here.

A previous white paper by R Street's Jarrett Dieterle was cited in another article about the Arkansas grocery store battles.


Arkansas Liquor Stores Sue Over Law Allowing Groceries to Sell Wine


Earlier this year, Arkansas enacted reforms to its alcohol laws that would allow grocery stores in the state's wet counties (some Arkansas counties are still dry) to sell all types of wine. Previously, grocery stores in the state could only sell certain types of "small-farm" wine. According to ArkansasOnline, several liquor store owners in the state are now suing to block implementation of the new law:

"Four small independent liquor stores in Arkansas will get a chance Nov. 13 to try to persuade a federal judge to temporarily halt the implementation of a new law that would allow grocery stores to sell any brand of wine.

Act 508 of 2017, which took effect Oct. 1, allows grocery stores in the state's 40 wet counties to expand their wine sales to include more than just wines from small farms that produce 250,000 gallons or less a year. Before the law took effect, grocery stores were limited to selling only the small-farm wines.

The legislation was signed into law March 15 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who cited its "positive considerations for the consumer." It was backed by Wal-Mart Stores and Kroger Co., whose spokesmen said it would allow them to improve their selections and respond to consumers' demands. But many liquor store owners opposed the legislation, saying it would harm their businesses.

On Oct. 23, the four liquor stores sued the director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and its five commissioners, saying the new law unfairly allows grocery stores to bypass restrictions that apply to liquor stores, and that it conflicts with existing state laws..."

Read the rest here.

Arkansas Senate Backs Expanding Grocery Store Wine Sales

U.S. News reports:

"A bill expanding the types of wine that Arkansas grocery stores can sell is on its way to the governor's desk.
"The Senate voted 18-14 Wednesday to give final approval to the measure changing the state law which currently only allows grocery stores to sell wines from small wineries..." 


Wine bill pass in the Arkansas house

Sarah Campbell reports:

"A proposal in the Arkansas Legislature to allow grocery stores to sell more wines passed in the House by a 53-34 vote on Wednesday, after failing its first vote there on Monday. The most recently amended version of Senate Bill 284 is now headed back to the Senate for approval. A notable change from the original was the addition of a provision that allows liquor store owners to sell consumables, which is currently prohibited...."