TOPEKA (KSNT)- Kansas lawmakers are moving forward with several bills to rewrite alcohol laws in the state.
The Kansas House voted 116 to six to pass House Bill 2059 on Thursday. The proposal could change where people drink alcohol in the state. In some cases, it could mean buying a drink at a local bar, then walking down the street with your drink in hand.
“Local governing bodies are best situated to interact with stakeholders and make decisions on how best to build out and police common consumption areas,” said Representative Ron Bryce, R-Coffeyville, who carried the bill.
The bill makes changes to the Kansas Club and Drinking Establishment Act’s provisions related to common consumption areas to remove the requirement that a city or county require that the portions of common consumption areas on public streets or roadways be blocked from motorized traffic during events. Supporters of the legislation said the change would allow cities to designate larger and more open areas for events with common consumption area permits and to attract additional patrons.
During hearings on the bill in January, leaders of the NOTO Arts & Entertainment District testified.
Thomas Underwood, Executive Director of the organization, said that current state law has prevented people from bar-hopping, during special events.
“We have special events with music, performing arts, but yet… you can’t purchase a drink from the Wheel Barrel, the Norsemen, or the four or five other entities in NOTO to enjoy the music, just because we have that restriction where you can’t cross the street,” Underwood said.
If enacted, the bill would allow local governments to figure out how the details of these areas would work, which includes the time of day, place, and what businesses would take part.
“I think we can trust our local governments to provide safe, common consumption areas that work best for their communities,” said Representative Joella Hoye, a democrat from Lenexa, who rose in support of the bill.
Lawmakers also passed House Bill 2124 with a vote of 97 to 25. The proposal could allow more bars to open up on Sundays.
Current state law requires Kansas retailers to sell alcohol on Sundays if food makes up at least 30% of their sales. The bill would get rid of that requirement.
Representative Adam Thomas, a Republican from Olathe, said he’s hoping the bill will help bring an economic boost to the state.
“If you’re an establishment and you sell cereal malt beverages, and your gross receipts are less than 30% when it comes to food, you can’t do that,” Thomas said. “So, this bill simply makes that change to allow more revenue to be brought in, more local businesses to make money, and potentially more revenue for the state.”
Both bills are now heading to the Senate.