Topeka, KS – A bill sponsored by Uncork Kansas was introduced in the House on Wednesday, January 29, to give Kansans the opportunity to choose where they make their adult beverage purchases. Legislation would preserve protections for liquor stores, gradually eliminating anti-consumer regulations currently in place. The protections include a ten-year freeze on liquor licenses and a phase-in of beer, wine, and spirits in grocery and convenience stores. Additionally, liquor stores would be permitted to own multiple locations and expand their offerings to include non-alcohol items such as tobacco, mixers, snacks, and ice.
“Those of us who truly believe in fostering free market principles in Kansas recognize the flawed logic of restricting the sell of legal, adult beverages to one kind of business,” said Representative John Rubin of Shawnee, Kan. “The Uncork Kansas bill ensures Kansans will finally benefit from the choice, convenience, and economic gains that come with an open market. It certainly has my support.”
Under the proposed bill’s guidelines, no new liquor licenses would be issued from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2024. On or after July 1, 2015, any licensee holding a valid retailer’s liquor license may sell their license to another retailer qualified to hold the license including grocery and convenience stores, with approval by the ABC, for a $100 fee.
Beginning July 1, 2017, qualified licensees could purchase a class A retailer license from ABC permitting the sale of beer. On July 1, 2020, a class B retailer license would be available for issuance to retailers desiring to sell beer and wine. At this time, liquor stores could begin selling non-alcoholic products of their choosing. Beginning July 1, 2024, the license freeze would expire and qualified retailers could purchase a class C license legalizing the sale of beer, wine, and spirits.
“Liquor stores having the exclusive right to sell adult beverages, a known food commodity, puts small-town grocers in Kansas at a disadvantage and limits our ability to compete in the free marketplace,” said Mike Moon, owner of Moon’s Hometown Market in Osawatomie, Humboldt, and LaCygne, Kan. “Small grocery owners, like me, have made significant personal investments in our stores. Our business, already growth-challenged by our competition, is now threatened more and more every day from non-traditional operators expanding into the food business. We must find ways to maintain our top line sales to remain viable in these smaller, often shrinking, communities. The legislature lifting restrictions so we can sell the adult beverages our customers request is critical to our future.”
Uncork Kansas is a coalition of more than 1,700 businesses and associations who provide more than 35,000 jobs in Kansas. Supporters of the Uncork Kansas bill include thousands of Kansas consumers, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Food Dealers Association, Retail Grocers Association of Greater Kansas City, Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, and more than 1,000 grocery and convenience stores.