Kansas C-Stores Offer Compromise on Beer

A struggle over liquor laws in Kansas continues, the Kansas City Star reported.

C-stores and grocery stores have for years sought the right to sell full-strength beer in Kansas, but liquor stores have successfully blocked the legislation.

This year the grocers and convenience store owners came up with a compromise for state lawmakers-allow c-stores to sell full-strength beer and let the liquor stores sell mixers, ice and foodstuffs.

Liquor stores, however, are not backing the plan and have told lawmakers allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer would jeopardize their business and create alcohol enforcement problems.

“It’s just essential that strong beer stays in the liquor stores,” said Larry Knackstedt, owner of an Overland Park liquor store. “Otherwise, many (liquor stores) just wouldn’t be able to stay in business.”

Current law limits non-liquor stores to selling beer that’s no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight. The slightly weaker beer that grocery stores now sell was created in the 1930s as a way to circumvent Prohibition. Although Prohibition ended in Kansas in 1948, the 3.2 beer remained the only option for grocers, the Kansas City Star reported.

“Liquor stores are legislatively protected,” said Tom Palace, a lobbyist for convenience stores and gas stations. “Competition helps the consumer. The consumer feels what we sell is an inferior product. It’s a matter of fairness.”

If the bill under consideration passes, gas stations, convenience and grocery stores could sell beer with up to 4% alcohol, which includes most domestic brands. Sales of other types of alcohol would remain limited to liquor stores.

Liquor store owners argue that if the bill passed it would put more beer in the hands of minors and cause more alcohol-related accidents, and they fear grocery stores could sell beer at lower prices because they sell so many other goods-providing unfair competition.

Hearings on the topic continue.



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