The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is presenting a plan that would once again attempt to liberate grocers in the state to sell wine and hard liquor. The Chamber’s plan is to present a bill to the legislature at some point this session. However, this is entirely unnecessary, given the recent history of alcohol regulation.
Last week on KMBZ’s Dana & Parks, hosts Dana Wright and Scott Parks addressed the issue. Parks made an interesting point, noting that several years ago Kansas was a dry state and didn’t allow Sunday sales of alcohol. But, as it turned out, the law wasn’t initially changed in Topeka; it all got started at local levels of government.
Kansas’s neighbor to the east, Missouri, had already repealed its blue laws and liquor stores were free to open on Sundays. So residents along the border would just drive across the state line to do their shopping. Liquor store owners in Kansas complained they were losing business, and in 2002 the Wyandotte County board placed the issue on the ballot. That November, voters passed a measure — which subverted the state law — allowing Sunday sales. Other cities soon followed suit, and before long it was no longer an issue.
Cities and Counties should just start passing ordinances to free grocers and liquor store owners, whether the state wants them to or not. Of course one of the biggest obstacles is the liquor store lobby, which doesn’t want to compete with big grocers. I’ve written about this problem before, and no doubt both sides would benefit with fewer laws.
There’s no moral argument in support of prohibiting one store from selling a particular product, and restricting another store to selling only a certain product. It’s all utilitarian arguments about how many jobs the liquor stores will lose, or some other contrived economic reasoning. Grocers should be free to sell wine, liquor stores should be free to sell pretzels, soda, or whatever else they want to willing customers, and that should be the end of it.