AUGUSTA, Kan. - Last week, a Senate committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of allowing Kansas convenience stores and supermarkets sell full-strength beer and liquor, GateHouse News Service reports. Liquor stores claimed that the bill would shutter small stores, while supporters said the measure would bring new jobs in rural grocery and convenience stores.
The bill would give more stores a license to offer wine, full-strength beer and liquor starting Jan. 1, 2012, and let convenience stores and supermarkets sell liquor three years later. Opponents focused on the state€™s costs to execute the bill.
"We've tried to focus on the economic problems with the legislation," said Spencer Duncan, spokesman for a group of liquor stores under the banner Keep Kansans in Business. "It will cost the state $1.3 million to implement the system. The state of Missouri has seen additional costs dealing with increased DUIs, selling to minors and things like that."
Supporting the legislation is another group called Coalition for Jobs and Consumer Choice, which includes the association for Kansas convenience and grocery stores. Gasoline station operator Gary Haag talked to the Senate committee in support of the bill.
"Rather than unfairly giving a leg up to one particular minority, Kansas should pass this law to make all retailers more competitive," said Haag.
The committee will vote on the bill this week. Currently, Kansas is only one of five states that restrict the sale of beer based on brewing strength.