LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association yesterday honored Rep. Dennis Keene with its prestigious “100 Proof Award” for his successful six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers.
“Rep. Keene’s patience and perseverance on this key responsibility issue has been phenomenal,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “This new law is a tough tool in the fight against drunk driving and will save lives across the Commonwealth.
“The KDA and its 28 members applaud Rep. Keene on his tireless efforts and personal dedication to this cause. We were proud to have been a strong supporter of this measure in the 2015 General Assembly and are honored to present him with this award.”
Senate Bill 133 requires individuals convicted of repeated drunk driving offenses to install an ignition interlock device to test operators’ breath before allowing the engine to start. It’s the first time such devices are mandatory in the Commonwealth.
Rep. Keene, who chairs the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, nearly lost his daughter Kelly Keene Jones in a drunken driving accident in 2002. She required three surgeries to overcome her injuries and is now an outspoken advocate for tougher DUI laws.
“I’d like to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for this award and commend their leadership in this measure and their continued efforts to promote the responsible and moderate use of their products,” Rep. Keene said.
“As you know, my daughter was nearly killed by a drunk driver. This legislation will save lives and protect more Kentuckians from the dangers of drinking and driving. I deeply appreciate the KDA’s support and look forward to working with them more.”
KDA Board Directors and member executives presented Rep. Keene with a commemorative “100 Proof Award” barrel head in a ceremony yesterday at Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville.
Rep. Keene, D-Wilder, is only the fourth person to ever receive the award, which the KDA created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry.
Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the KDA’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group and the KDA Board of Directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic Bourbon industry gives to elected officials.
Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws. Gov. Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry.
Senate President Robert Stivers received the award last year for his bold leadership in the 2014 legislative session that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit.
Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft and strengthening Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true authentic home for Bourbon.
Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.
“With great Bourbon comes great responsibility, and our members are united in their stance against drunken driving and underage drinking,” Gregory said. “We look forward to working with Kentucky leaders to further promote the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits.”