‘Uncorked’ liquor sales could harm hometown businesses – Osage County Online | Osage County News

‘Uncorked’ liquor sales could harm hometown businesses

State Rep. Blaine Finch, 59th District, Franklin and Osage Counties

rep_finch_blaine_MGreetings from the snowy Kansas Statehouse. It has been a short week as we missed Tuesday and Wednesday due to weather. As I write this we are preparing to go on general orders for the first time this session. General orders is that part of the legislative process where the house acts as one large committee and considers bills. Members can make amendments and debate the bill before a vote is taken to move the bill to final action. Final action usually takes place at least one day later and is the final recorded vote on the bill.

Today we have four bills that are non-controversial (two insurance matters, one bill allowing home brewers of beer to share with their friends, and one allowing the Stillwell Township in Johnson County to continue to employ a crossing guard near a school). Not every bill is a big one and sometimes we take them as they come.

On the bigger bills front we are going to start seeing some large issues come before us. Some of you have asked about the bill that would allow liquor sales in grocery and convenience stores. The shorthand name is the “uncorked” bill. This bill has been introduced in committee again this year after not getting out of committee last year. Proponents of the bill argue it will be more convenient for consumers to be able to purchase wine and spirits when they purchase their groceries. They also contend that it will create jobs at grocery and convenience stores.

Those who oppose the bill argue that it will hurt local businesses who have made investments in liquor stores under the current regulatory environment; it will not create a significant number of new jobs as big grocery stores will not add personnel just because they add a new product; and they cite the social concerns of making liquor more readily available and more visible to young people.

I opposed the bill last year for many of the reasons cited above. While I would like to make more profit available to our local convenience stores, the likely outcome in this district is that several of the locally owned liquor stores would go out of business while big box retailers would benefit. These local stores tend to purchase their supplies and services locally which creates a beneficial economic ripple effect. Also, the current regulations do not bar grocers and convenience store owners from selling liquor if they choose to obtain the permits and create a separate entrance to their liquor store. We have one such convenience store in Franklin County that has done just that.

I am committed to preserving our local businesses and jobs. If there are changes to the law that allow for a proper balance between customer convenience and preservation of our hometown businesses I will consider it at that time, but for now I believe the harms of this idea outweigh the benefits.

Thank you for the opportunity and honor of serving you in the Kansas House. If there is any way I can be of help to you, please contact me at 785-296-7655 or by email at [email protected].

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