Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

Legislators divided on future of Sunday liquor sales bill

May 17, 2003

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— Some lawmakers say Wyandotte County's approval of holiday liquor sales could prompt a conclusion to the Sunday sales debate in the Legislature.

Senate leaders, though, want to let the courts clarify the state's liquor laws.

One day after the Unified Government of Wyandotte County approved an ordinance allowing liquor sales on summer holidays, Rep. Rick Rehorn said Friday he was certain the Senate would act on the state's Liquor Control Act next session.

"It solves our problem in Wyandotte County, and it solves the state's problem with uniformity," said Rehorn, D-Kansas City.

Local governments near Missouri long have fought for Sunday sales because Kansans take their business to Missouri, which allows liquor sales on both Sundays and holidays.

The Unified Board of Commissioners approved a charter ordinance Thursday allowing liquor sales on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day in Kansas City, Kan. The state bans sales on those days, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Sundays.

The ordinance also would extend by two hours the time allotted for Sunday sales. Stores would open an hour earlier at 11 a.m. and close an hour later, at 8 p.m.

A 60-day waiting period will allow opponents time to protest, so Labor Day would be the first holiday for alcohol sales under the ordinance.

Last fall, the Unified Government and Edwardsville approved ordinances allowing Sunday sales, arguing the state's Liquor Control Act does not apply uniformly to all cities.

An appeal by the attorney general is pending in the state Supreme Court.

The Senate did not act on the issue this session because of the appeal, said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood. House members passed a bill allowing Sunday sales of packaged liquor wherever voters approved, but the Senate narrowly rejected it. No compromise was reached before lawmakers ended their session May 8.

"The Senate is not in the habit of intruding into judicial business, when an issue is in the midst of litigation," Vratil said.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline had hoped the Legislature would act on the measure this session. If more cities vote to allow Sunday sales, Kansas would be in "an untenable legal position," he said in a statement Friday.

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