While the Kansas legislative session will likely close without elected officials taking action on Uncork Kansas efforts to legalize the sale of adult beverages in grocery and convenience stores, the coalition is celebrating the success of our peer advocates in Tennessee. Legislators there passed a bill on Monday permitting the sale of stronger beer in grocery and convenience stores. This action followed an earlier bill that made wine sales legal in grocery stores.
“It’s certainly disappointing that legislators in Kansas have again chosen to protect the liquor store monopoly over free market choices for adult consumers, but we’re encouraged by the Tennessee outcomes,” said Jessica Lucas, Uncork Kansas spokesperson. “We remain committed to changing Kansas law in response to our customers persistent requests to purchase adult beverages in our stores.”
Kansas is one of only five states that still retail cereal malt beverages (CMB), commonly recognized as 3.2 beer and wine coolers. Under current law, grocery and convenience stores can only hold a CMB license.
“Our customers daily express their frustration with Kansas alcohol laws, especially those who travel to other states and see the seamless way adult beverages are retailed in liquor, convenience, and grocery stores,” said Joe Grieshaber, president of Dillon Food Stores (a member of Uncork Kansas). “With the growing craft beer market, Kansas law restricts customer choice even more as many brewers don’t offer a 3.2 percent product, leaving us unable to meet the needs of those shopping our store.”
Border states Missouri and Nebraska allow the sale of adult beverages in convenience and grocery stores, resulting in financial loss to the state as its well-noted many Kansans travel to both states for the convenience of shopping in one location for all of their items.
“Recapturing those sales tax dollars is a benefit to the state and it’s mystifying that many border legislators are not more impelled to stop the exodus of shoppers to neighboring states,” said Lucas. “Kansans are becoming more restless on this issue and as they continue to voice their support for the right to choose where they buy a legal product, we’re confident we will see in 2015 the adoption of responsible, consumer-friendly adult beverage laws."