The beer and wine legislation introduced on January 12 in the House Commerce Committee has not yet been published. It is very unusual for a bill to be introduced in committee and not be available for review weeks later. However, the Commerce Committee Chair is planning to hold a hearing once the bill is published – assuming there is still time within the legislative deadlines.
Yesterday, Dillon’s/Kroger employees came to the State Capitol and met with legislators throughout the building. Without a bill, we can only rely on the various newspaper and television stories from the past week. Within those stories, Jessica Lucas, Uncork lobbyist, says the bill will allow big box and convenience stores to sell beer and wine.
"With only three states selling 3.2 beer, you limit the ability to have products to put on the shelf," said Jessica Lucas, a lobbyist with Uncork Kansas. "We need the government to allow us to sell beer without the definition that it must be 3.2 beer."
Lucas says the bill would also benefit liquor stores by allowing them to sell things like chips, corkscrews, mixers, and other non-alcoholic products.” From the KFDI Wichita story.
From this description – the bill likely does NOT include any requirements that corporate chains buy out current liquor store licensees nor a significant transition period as proposed in some of the previous Uncork bills. The “buy out’ concept has only been included in bills that would put strong beer, wine and spirits into the big box stores.
Long time members of KABR know – the key to winning this issue is one on one relationships with your legislators It takes more than a 2 minute conversation to explain the complex concerns of retail liquor store owners. As they get to know you and learn about your business, they are better able to understand the harmful effects of Uncork legislation. As you develop an honest supportive relationship with your representative and senator, you are also more likely to receive information from them about the happenings at the Legislature. If you do not know them already, reach out now to introduce yourself and to begin a conversation about why you hope they will support Kansas small businesses and oppose Uncork. If they are local, request a meeting.
Reach out to the members of the House Commerce Committee and your legislators now (see information below if you need help). Face to face meetings are extremely valuable – either at the Statehouse in Topeka or while they are home on the weekends. Emails and phone calls are also effective. It is very important that our members get active now on this issue, or we will find ourselves behind the ball once a public hearing is finally scheduled.
Find your state senator and state representative at https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ by entering your address information. Contact information for all legislators is available at www.kslegislature.org.
Information for the House Commerce Committee is below: