Photo by Kathy Damron
PUBLIC HEARING ON HB 2200 – House Commerce Committee
Kansas retailers showed up to hear the testimony from Proponents and Opponents for the Big Box Bill February 11, 12, and 13. Read First Day notes here. Read Second Day notes here. Read Third Day notes here. Read HB 2200 here.
The hearings this year featured testimony from more than the Kansas retailers who will be impacted by transforming the current private retail system to a private corporate retail system. HB 2200 puts strong beer in 1775 retail convenience, grocery and big box stores in 2018. It also allows grocery and big box stores to purchase liquor licenses to sell strong beer, wine and spirits.
There was testimony opposing the bill from former legislative Rep. Jim Howell, Frances Wood - Women's Christian Temperance Union, Seth Fox - High Plains Distillery, customer Ron McDowell, Culture Shield Network, Kansas Association for Responsible Liquor Laws, Kansas Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association, Kansas Association of Beverage Retailers. Written testimony was submitted expressing the opposition of sheriffs from Harvey and Montgomery counties, Lyons Bank, EZ Spirits, KS Winery and Viticulture Association, as well as accountants, attorneys and other small businesses.
Uncork Chair David Dillon testified that a 2011 economic study by Dr. Art Hall showed that Kansas would gain jobs and tax income if HB 2200 were passed - even though liquor stores would close. He said these gains would come from expansion of grocery and convenience store businesses. Several consumers testified that Kansas should pass the bill for customer convenience. Lobbyists for the convenience stores and Dillons stated that they were interested in possible amendments.
Whitney Damron, KARLL, shared a more recent study that shows the loss of jobs and businesses that will occur.
Legislators asked questions - attempting to understand if the bill's provision for grocery stores selling strong beer, wine and spirits would be limited to grocery stores or would include big box stores, drugstores and dollar discount stores. The expansion of strong beer sales to all convenience stores also raised questions - the strong beer license created by the bill appears to be for convenience stores and big box/grocery stores only, meaning that other retailers who currently sell cereal malt beverages would be unable to get the new strong beer license. Taverns are not addressed.
Rep. Brunk asserted that the predicted jobs and tax gains seemed unlikely and the current liquor licensing system appears to be more of a free market, since anyone who qualifies can open a liquor store now - rather than the proposed bill which includes caps and restrictions for licenses.
The operator of a small grocery store was asked if he could open a liquor store in his current location, and he could. The opponents brought forward a letter from the small grocer in Grain Valley who has added his own liquor store and now opposes Uncork legislation. A Manhattan liquor store owner testified in support of the buyout portion of HB 2200 and felt this was the best deal that liquor stores were going to get. When questioned, he stated that it would be better for liquor store small businesses if the legislation never passed in Kansas, but stated he didn't think Uncork would ever go away.
Chair Mark Hutton has said that if HB 2200 is defeated this year, he is not likely to hold any hearings next session.
Resources for Contacting Legislators
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House Commerce Committee Information - members & contact information
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Information about the 2015 Kansas Legislature
Contact KABR for assistance.
List of Legislation (Click on number to read the bill)
HB 2088 – ABC Bill to Remove Requirement for Immediate Citation
HB 2089 – ABC Bill to Clarify that Hidden Ownership is Disqualification from License
HB 2125 – Apply KS Administrative Procedures Act to ABC Regulatory Proceedings
HB 2162 – Exempting “Core Commercial Districts” from Liquor License Distance Restrictions
HB 2171 – Lottery Vending Machines
HB 2189 – Microbrewery Self-Distribution
HB 2191 – Sampling by Distributors to Retailers and Employees
Governor Proposes Tax Increases on Liquor and Tobacco
The new budget plan released by Governor Sam Brownback proposes consumption tax increases for cigarettes, tobacco products and liquor enforcement. Liquor enforcement tax is the 8 percent tax that is paid on all purchases at the retail liquor store. The proposal increases that tax to 12 percent. According to the Governor’s Budget Report, the last increase in the liquor enforcement tax was 1983, when it was increased from 4 percent to 8 percent.
The last increase on cigarette taxes was in 2003 when it was increased to 79 cents per pack. The tobacco products tax has remained at 10 percent of wholesale price since 1972. The new rates would be $2.29 per pack and 25 percent of wholesale price. Read more.
OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Smaller stations in Gardner say it’s a tougher game since QuikTrip came to town, and now Casey’s is upgrading too. Read the article.
(March 31) The House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Conference Committee will meet Wednesday, April 2, at 1 p.m. in Room 144-S to work out their differences on Sub for HB 2223. Link to bill description. Link to HB 2223. (Lobbyists are calling this the Micro Mega Liquor Bill of 2014)