10-211 and Keg Tagging

Last year, when Trader Joe's was getting an exemption to the liquor ordinance 10-211 I wrote about a fictional trio of guys, Joe, Rick and Ryan who wanted to open specialty beer, wine and liquor stores. Because of KC ordinance 10-211, a waiver must be applied for through the city to allow for a certain number of liquor licensees based on the population within a certain area near the store. I argued that 10-211 was a needless law because people wouldn't open liquor stores where there were already too many liquor stores to serve the population and posited that it actually made liquor stores worse because it didn't allow for specialty liquor stores.

Well, it seems Minneapolis has a similar law and the real life Dan Kerkinni is butting up against it. Kerkinni seems to want to open a craft beer oriented store on Hennepin (everything in Minny is on Hennepin). But, a council member enacted some distance requirements that knocked out those plans. Then Kerkinni chose another place nearby and a local grocery store blocked it by applying for a separate wine license which killed the plans because of the density requirement (just like 10-211). On the Minneapolis blog that covers the area of town, the author covers many of the same points I made last year, but using actual quotes from other store owners only interested in eliminating competition which is all that laws like 10-211 seek to do. There are no high minded ideals behind these laws and they actually make things worse for consumers. Oh, and what is Kerkinni going to do about his store? He's going to the suburbs.

Keeping with the theme of worthless laws that actually do harm, Kansas and Missouri both have keg tagging laws. Those of us with kegerators or who have bought a keg in the past 5 years are all too familiar with this law. To get a keg, the retailer must fill out an admittedly simple little form with your driver's license info and then affix a trackable tag to your keg. This tag allows police breaking up a house party or something track where the keg came from in case there was underage drinking. Presumably, then police could find out who purchased the keg and can theoretically charge the purchaser with supplying minors with alcohol.

How many times has this happened? Georgia, which has a similar law, hasn't had any prosecutions from their law. I suspect that the number in Missouri and Kansas is less than 5. New York recently repealed a similar law because they found that teens just switched to liquor or 30 packs of beer. So, this supposedly high minded law of keeping beer away from teens actually does nothing to prevent it and causes retailers an extra hassle that might just be enough to keep them from offering kegs.

It's true that this is just a minor inconvenience for consumers and stores, but keg beer is the best beer. It's also the most environmentally friendly option. The law that does no good anyway shouldn't tilt people away from the more environmetally friendly option, it should tilt towards it. Keg beer shouldn't be treated any differently than cases or 30 packs or liquor. It's time to get rid of this little piece of ineffectiveness.

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