Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Kansas legislators approve bill lifting liquor sales ban

Published in CSP Daily News

TOPEKA, Kansas -- More than two years after a court ruling allowed local governments to defy state law's longstanding ban on Sunday liquor sales, lawmakers passed a bill to remove the prohibition from the books, said the Associated Press.

It was a symbolic milestone. The Kansas Constitution prohibited the sale, manufacturing and consumption of alcohol, except for medicinal purposes, until 1948, and the Sunday sales ban enacted afterward had been among the most politically durable features of state law.

The bill preserves the right [image-nocss] of cities and counties to allow liquor stores to open on Sunday, except on Easter and Christmas when it falls on that day. Also, local governments gained the right to allow the Sunday sale of low-alcohol beer in groceries and convenience stores. But cities or county governments would have to act to allow such sales, and citizens could petition to put the issue on the ballot if they opposed the decision of their elected officials.

The new bill does not overturn the results of any previous public votes to allow Sunday liquor sales, but communities that now allow such sales would be required to re-enact their policies.

The default position is, No Sunday sales unless you opt in', said State Senator John Vratil (R).

The House approved the bill, drafted by negotiators, on an 87 to 34 vote early Sunday. The Senate vote was 21 to 17, sending the measure to Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has supported Sunday sales.

The Sunday sales ban came under attack in 2002, when a Wyandotte County district judge ruled that the state's Liquor Control Act, which contained the ban, did not apply uniformly to all sizes of cities. For example, the act made it harder in a small city than a large one to force elections on allowing retail liquor sales, a holdover from the days when lawmakers assumed some communities would not want any alcohol sales.

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the decision last year, but even before then, local governments began approving Sunday sales. Two counties and 23 cities adopted ordinances, most near Missouri, where Sunday sales have been allowed for decades.