My New Year’s resolution is to be open to change, to fully embrace the concept of adapting. It can be challenging to welcome change with a great big hug. It’s not easy letting go of what you’ve always been doing. Now add in being voted into office, and the fear that if you make a change you face backlash, possibly losing the next election… and downright creepy (and grammatically challenged) emails.
I understand all this and I sympathize, but I’m here to tell you: If I – a weary, multi-tasking, middle-aged mother – can vow to cuddle up to change, the Kansas legislature can do it, too. The first place they should start? Our state’s goofy and downright dumb liquor laws.
1881 is the year Kansas was the first state to constitutionally ban alcohol, and we’ve been stuck in what amounts to a legislative black hole since then. Yep, our liquor buying and selling regulations date back to the same period in time as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral when women were wearing bustles and still churning butter. The fact that any facet of modern retail is predicated on such antiquated laws is like a bad Saturday Night Live skit.
Is it asking too much to have 21st century legislation (forget that, I’d take 20th century) so I can buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store (not to mention a corkscrew at the liquor store) or a real beer?
Because let me tell you what happens when I can’t. Every week, a lot of my money goes next door to Missouri. In this age of “right now retail” (Amazon, Zappo’s, anyone?) it’s all about one stop shopping. If I need wine I’ll go get my groceries (and corkscrew) in Missouri – and then, because the gas pumps are right there, I’ll fill up my tank, too.
Not that Missouri isn’t a fine state, but I’d much rather my tax dollars stay in Kansas. I mean, have you looked at our budget? Just wow! I’m no fiscal genius, but I’m going to say without hesitation, that Kansas really needs my money to stay put.
I know there’s concern that local liquor merchants might face some economic uncertainty if the law is changed and I can get my Pinot Grigio at the supermarket. To that I have to say, “too bad, so sad.” When did the purveyors of alcohol in Kansas become a protected class? It’s beyond ludicrous. Basically, we treat booze merchants better than our teachers. (How messed up is that?) And as a woman who appreciates quality customer service, I’m going to guess that if a liquor store with a history of providing a pleasant shopping experience coupled with a knowledgeable staff, they’ll continue to thrive.
Do not even get me started on the fairy tale that buying alcohol from a “liquor only” store keeps teens from drinking. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be less true. Take it from a mom in the teen-raising trenches. Most (if not all) minors are getting their alcohol from their parents’ homes.
This is not just me spouting off; I’ve got National Institute of Health statistics to back me up. More importantly, if I felt that keeping alcohol out of grocery stores would cut back on underage drinking, I’d be all for it. It’s not. You know what keeps kids from drinking? Parents - vigilant, involved, responsible parents.
I’m also going to tattle a bit here. When I do buy liquor in Kansas I don’t get I.D’d. But, when I go to Missouri and buy a bottle of Skinny Girl Tangerine Vodka at a grocery store, it’s like going through the TSA line at the airport. Grocery stores check EVERYONE’s driver’s license. You could be 98-years-old, in a wheelchair, with an oxygen mask Gorilla Glued to your face and you probably still would have to show proof of age.
Seriously, Kansas politicians: take a big step out of your “way back” machine and realize the people of this great state don’t need a 19th century legislative nanny. It’s 2015. It’s time to say hello to common sense commerce and keeping tax dollars in Kansas. Let’s wave goodbye once and for all to 1881 (not that I have anything against the bustle).
If you’re with me, let your legislator know. You can find more information at www.uncorkkansas.com/support.
Sherry Kuehl of Leawood, Kansas, writes the popular blog snarkyinthesuburbs.com which was optioned by ABC Studios for film and television. She’s the author of two books: Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School and Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas. Ms. Kuehl can also be seen on morning television dispensing “21st century advice with an attitude” with her “Dear Snarky” segment and she has a weekly column in the Kansas City Star that features her unique take on life.
Her background is in broadcast journalism. She’s an award-winning producer and journalist having worked for CNN, The Wall Street Journal Report, Public Television and Cox News.