Liberalize Kansas Liquor Laws

There has been much hubbub lately about the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC) this week deciding to reinterpret a rule that was passed in 1987 as part of the liquor by the drink legislation. In case you hadn't heard, the rule states that a drink's cost must be calculated based on that drink's alcohol content. The practical meaning of this is that if a 16 oz. beer costs $3 then a 32 oz. beer must cost $6. This, in effect, means buying in bulk, such as a pitcher, is not allowed to be cheaper than a single serving drink. Clearly, this is a stupid rule that needs to be revoked.

Unfortunately for Kansans, we have suffered through perhaps the worst legislative session in KS history where banning things like K2 and public smoking were much more in vogue than liberalizing Kansas' very conservative laws. I've been thinking about what I'm going to talk about when my state representative comes knocking on my door this time around and I've compiled a list of things I would like him to do when he goes back to work. And then I'm going to hose off my porch because my representative is quite the slimy specimen.

  1. Allow wine sales in grocery stores with a Commercial Malt Beverage (CMB) retail license. The CMB license is the liquor license that grocery stores have that allows them to sell 3.2 beer.
  2. Eliminate 3.2 beer. Anyone with a CMB license can sell beer of any alcohol content. The 3.2 beer law is outdated and, quite frankly, stupid.
  3. Retail liquor stores should be allowed to sell food, mixers etc. This is a little complicated because of the CMB license. There would be little effective difference between the 2 licenses and may lead the way to your local Price Chopper selling Jack Daniels in the checkout lane. But, the prohibition of corporations getting retail liquor licenses may stop many grocers from getting the retail liquor license.
  4. Allow liquor stores to have public restrooms and change trays. Those 2 things are actually illegal in KS. When I asked an ABC officer why they had the ban on bathrooms and he told me that someone could go into the restroom and put a mask on and come out and rob the store. That's the best he could come up with. But he made sure to include a condescending attitude while he told me that gem.
  5. Retail liquor stores should be allowed to be open until midnight, the same as the CMB licensees.
  6. Sale price of products should not be regulated in any way. It is currently illegal to sell below cost which makes it more difficult for retailers to get rid of excess product.
  7. Allow samples in liquor stores and on-premise stores (bars). It is much harder for new beer and wines to sell in KS because consumers aren't allowed to try samples in stores.
  8. Alcohol and drink specials should be allowed during certain hours of the day. Happy hours that discount alcohol or beer are currently against the law.
  9. Lower the legal drinking age to 18. 18 Year olds drink and they drink a lot. If they can drink legally they will be less likely to binge drink or drink high alcohol content liquors in a short amount of time which endangers them and others.
With the exception of #9, none of these changes to the laws are radical and most are just common sense. Surprisingly, the liquor store lobby is against many of these because it opens them up to competition from grocery stores. But, sold as a package of laws, there is much to love for liquor stores. I don't think any of these changes would increase irresponsible or underage drinking and if they did it would be quite marginal. 

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