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Just the Facts

Antiquated Laws Restrict Choice.

In Kansas, the only place you, the consumer, can currently purchase packaged liquor products is in a liquor store. Grocery and convenience stores in Kansas are only allowed to sell beer that’s 3.2% alcohol. Kansas liquor laws date back to 1881 during prohibition when it was the first state to constitutionally ban alcohol, statewide. The complete ban remained in effect until 1948, the longest of any state.  Since then there have only been minor changes to the law leaving Kansas with one of the most antiquated liquor laws in the country.

It’s time to modernize these laws.  It’s time to let responsible adults decide where they want to purchase their alcohol.

Myth Busters:

Changing the law will put liquor stores at a disadvantage and might force them out of business.

Uncork Kansas legislation will offer a level playing field for all types of retailers. Liquor stores can expand their product offerings by allowing them to offer previously prohibited food to help grow their business.

Changing laws, regulations and taxes, as well as shifts in the overall economy are realities that all businesses must address on a day-today basis in order to remain viable.

Unlike all other Kansas businesses, liquor stores are protected and don’t have to compete like other retailers. Only liquor stores can sell alcohol products. This is in stark contrast to businesses like grocery and convenience stores where selling items like bread, milk, and candy bars isn’t exclusive to their business. They compete with other stores that sell these products: discount stores like Dollar General; fast food restaurants like Braum’s; home improvement stores like Menard’s; and of course, internet businesses like

The belief that liquor stores will go out of business is flawed logic. Research has indicated Kansas consumers will continue to support liquor stores when modernized laws are passed. One need only look to neighboring states where adult beverages are sold in grocery and convenience stores to know that liquor stores can exist alongside outlets that sell the same products. There are liquor stores in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and the 29 other states that allow the free market to drive adult beverage sales.

Eliminating protectionist liquor laws will attract more business to the state, creating jobs and pumping more money into the local economies.

Large grocery stores or big corporations will be able to sell below cost. This creates a disadvantage to the smaller local retailers.

The current Kansas law says wholesale liquor prices are the same for everyone and that retailers cannot sell to the public below cost. This law prohibits larger retail stores from buying liquor at a cheaper price than smaller retail stores. Competition is always good for the consumer, because it will force competitive pricing. Even under current laws, liquor stores are free to price their products competitively as long as they do not sell below cost.

The increased availability of adult alcoholic beverages will result in an increase in underage drinking.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health in 2007 concluded increased access to alcohol did not increase underage drinking and that the vast majority of minors who do drink get their alcohol from family and friends, not retail sellers.

Alcohol sold at grocery and convenience stores is more likely to end up in the hands of minors.

In a 2010 study, The US Department of Health and Human Services found that less than 5% of underage drinkers purchased alcohol themselves and of that 5%, a large majority purchased from a bar or restaurant.

Many retailers are stopped if age-restricted products come across the scanner. The bill provides that all retailers must check the identification of anyone attempting to buy beer, wine or spirits who appears to be 27 years of age or less.

In fact, figures from ABC show grocery and convenience stores have a higher rate of compliance with the law than do retail liquor stores.

Every retailer supporting this initiative takes the responsibility of selling full-strength beer, wine and spirits seriously. Coalition retailers have considerable experience with these types of sales and currently sell adult beverages in many states throughout the nation and have done so for many years.

Missouri’s lower taxes is what drives Kansans across the border, not the liquor laws.

The price discrepancy between adult beverages sold in Kansas versus Missouri is not solely a reflection of taxation differences. In many cases, the sticker price is much lower before the item is taxed.

Consumers tell us they want to be able to consolidate shopping trips. They want to be able to buy adult beverages alongside groceries and convenience items. And, they don’t want to have to go across state lines to do so.

Consumers don’t think it’s appropriate for the state government to tell them where they can buy their alcoholic beverages.

Modernizing liquor laws will bring money back to Kansas.

Allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full strength beer, wine and spirits will not have a positive impact on the Kansas economy.

Modernized liquor laws will bring back Kansas’ dollars that are currently being siphoned off to neighboring states.

They will also attract more business to the state, creating jobs and pumping more money into local economies.

Expanded business opportunities means expanded job opportunities. Allowing more business growth will create those much needed jobs. The potential for job increases is much greater than the potential for job losses.

Antiquated Kansas liquor laws - Relics of the past

Kansas has the dubious honor of being one of only a handful of states that still restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery and convenience stores. State law grants the exclusive right to sell packaged liquor to state-licensed liquor stores.  It all goes back to 1881 when Kansas became the very first state to ban the manufacture and sale of “intoxicating beverages” statewide.

1881: An amendment to the Kansas Constitution goes into effect, making Kansas the first state to enact a statewide, constitutional prohibition on alcohol. During this time, numerous bootlegging and moonshine operations spring up, as well as scores of illegal establishments.[/box]

1917: Kansas passes the “Bone Dry Law” prohibiting the possession of all alcohol throughout the state.[/box]

1919: The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, creating nationwide prohibition on alcohol.[/box]

1933: Nationwide prohibition ends with the 21st Amendment[/box]

1937: 3.2 Beer is born. In 1937, Kansas’ legislators pass a law defining beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less by weight as cereal malt beverage or “CMB.” The law exempts CMB from intoxicating liquors restrictions and authorizes its sale for consumption on and off premises.

1948: Kansas’ voters approve an amendment to the Kansas Constitution authorizing the legislature to “regulate, license and tax the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor.” However, it restricts sales on Sundays and the sale of packaged (off-premises) liquor anywhere other than in liquor stores licensed by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). Don’t belly up to the bar yet. At the same time, the bill describes open saloons as “forever prohibited,” thereby continuing to forbid the sale of liquor by the drink in public places.[/box]

1970: The Wild West show. Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller launches a new round of enforcement during his 1971-74 term. Most notoriously, he raids Amtrak trains to stop illegal liquor sales, and prohibits airlines from serving alcoholic beverages in airspace over Kansas.

1986: Kansas voters approve a constitutional amendment permitting the sale of liquor by the drink in establishments open to the public.[/box]

2005: The state legislature amends the 1948 Liquor Control Act permitting cities and counties to allow Sunday liquor sales except on Easter and Christmas when it falls on a Sunday.[/box]

2011: The liquor mega bill is passed, lifting restrictions on tastings and finally allowing happy hours in drinking establishments.[/box]

TODAY: Kansas is one of just a handful of states where wine, spirits and beer over 3.2% alcohol can still only be sold in liquor stores.

Isn’t it finally time we changed all that?