Archive for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kansas moves closer to ending ban on happy hour

March 6, 2012, 2:30 p.m. Updated March 6, 2012, 4:49 p.m.


— Kansas is sometimes identified with Carrie Nation's saloon-smashing and imposed its own Prohibition for decades, but legislators moved closer Tuesday to quietly repealing the state's ban on happy hours at bars, taverns, clubs and restaurants.

The state House gave first-round approval to a bill repealing a law that prohibits businesses that sell alcoholic drinks from setting different prices at different times of the day. The voice vote advanced the measure to final action, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

The bill is likely to pass the House, and senators have already approved a separate, similar measure. Legislators are considering more than a dozen liquor bills this year to loosen state laws that dictate who can sell beer, wine and hard liquor and under what conditions. A House committee reviewed a proposal Tuesday that eventually would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

The House advanced the happy hour bill without much debate, something that surprised some of its supporters, because the Legislature has a long history of vocal resistance from social conservatives to changes in liquor laws. Conservative Republicans have a majority in the House, but many of them saw the happy hour bill as promoting free-market, less-regulation principles.

"With a legal product in a free market, it's up to the establishments to set the price," said Rep. Steve Brunk, a Bel Aire Republican, chairman of the Federal and State Affairs Committee, which endorsed the measure and is considering other liquor bills this week.

Kansas voters adopted a Prohibition amendment to the state constitution in 1880 and didn't repeal it until 1948, 15 years after national Prohibition had ended. Resistance to the state's no-alcohol policy inspired Nation to wield a hatchet against saloons.

Even after its Prohibition ended, Kansas remained known for its conservative liquor laws, limiting the sale of liquor by the drink to private clubs until 1987. Grocery and convenience stores still can sell only lower-strength, or "weak" beer and no wine or liquor.

The ban on happy hour dates to 1985. Philip Bradley, a lobbyist who represents bars, hotels, motels and caterers serving alcohol, said the lawmakers who enacted it were well-intentioned and worried about encouraging alcohol abuse.

"It would stop people from over-consumption and get rid of cheap alcohol," Bradley said. "It just didn't work."

The law doesn't prevent businesses from having the same discounted price for drinks all day, but Bradley said legislators assumed in 1985 that no merchant would do that.

Business owners proved them wrong — running drink specials all day long in what supporters of the bill called "happy days." The bill still would ban the sale of drinks below their cost to the merchant.

"This is actually more responsible than our current practice," said Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican.

Other bills before Brunk's committee would allow alcoholic drinks to be served on railroad cars; permit liquor stores to have beer, wine and liquor tastings; allow small distilleries to sell their products and offer samples; and repeal a law that says people can't have a job serving alcohol if they've been convicted on a "morals charge."

The measure that would move the state toward allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine is before another committee and is likely to have a tougher time passing. It pits large retail chains against liquor store owners, who've so far succeeded in blocking changes.


Matthew Herbert 6 years, 2 months ago

Happy hour bans serve no REAL purpose to a community. Glad to see it go.

Stuart Sweeney 6 years, 2 months ago

Read the article--it said they were quiet moving to remove the ban. That would make it legal!!!

guesswho 6 years, 2 months ago

Read his comment, he was saying he was glad to get rid of the ban.

Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

When it is criminal to have happy hour, only criminals will have happy hour.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

When it is criminal to be bare, only criminals will be bare.

puddleglum 6 years, 2 months ago

quarter draws and the slores that go with them

RoeDapple 6 years, 2 months ago

Ah, Brownbakistan has found Lawrence's Achilles heel . . .

Kirk Larson 6 years, 2 months ago

Hopefully will increase bus ridership or create jobs for cab drivers.

hujiko 6 years, 2 months ago

So far this is the only action by our legislators this session that will boost the state economy.

Good, keep it up. Lay off the moral crusades for a while, please.

gccs14r 6 years, 2 months ago

It's too bad about the "must make a profit" provision on alcohol sales. One way a restaurant manager can satisfy an angry customer is to knock the drinks off a bill. Can't do that in Kansas, though. Also, there's no way for a barman to legally comp a good customer.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh! My addition on that drink tab must have been a bit off in the customer's favor. Oh well, he left already.

Beth Bird 6 years, 2 months ago

Are you kidding me??? This is what the state spends time on?? I am positive there are much more pressing matters than happy hour!

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 2 months ago

This will come down to what type of republicans control the state legislature. Are they Ron Paul libertarians? Or, are they Rick Santorum social conservatives? Even if this bill gets thru the legislature, I can't imagine our extreme social conservative governor will be ok with it unless it's wine being served from water jugs...

SnakeFist 6 years, 2 months ago

Or you could just admit that conservatives are the worst at intruding into and regulating private behavior.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 2 months ago

This must be the work of the repealer. His biggest find.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

Clipped from the above article: "Other bills before Brunk's committee would,,, repeal a law that says people can't have a job serving alcohol if they've been convicted on a "morals charge.""

Clipped from:

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION NO. 2003-31, November 6, 2003 Joan Wagnon, Secretary Kansas Department of Revenue

"Morals charge" is defined in the Club and Drinking Establishment Act, as among other things, "a charge involving . . . gambling."

I am sure this law has not been enforced anyway. Lottery tickets are sold all over the state of Kansas, and I have never heard of anyone losing a job serving alcohol because he or she once bought a lottery ticket. Buying a lottery ticket is obviously gambling. And for that matter, I have never heard of charges being brought against anyone for buying a lottery ticket either.

Since the law prohibiting anyone that has been convicted of a "morals charge" from having a job serving alcohol is so vague, it certainly should be repealed.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

My point was that "morals charge" is too loosely defined. Many ordinary behaviors could be considered to be "gambling", so the definition should be clarified, or the law repealed.

Jim Johnson 6 years, 2 months ago

Some of these people shoud reread the article BEFORE posting their comment or at least not be drinking at the time.

Use to be the bartender could buy you a drink now and then, I think bringing that back would be good for business.

Liberty275 6 years, 2 months ago

What's a morals charge? Kansas is weird.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

As Kansas law now stands, apparently a "morals charge" is just about whatever an overzealous District Attorney claims it is.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

It's hard to define, ..."but I know it when I see it" - Potter Stewart.

Jean Robart 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh Perses--you hit the nail on the head!

lawslady 6 years, 2 months ago

Who knew there was such a ban? How have the local places gotten away with their "half price martini night" or "half price wine happy hour" promotions? I'm confused.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 2 months ago

The way it is set up you can have a drink special as long as you run it all day long and not just for 2-3 hours. Happy hours usually feature a very cheap drink special for 2 or so hours a day.

purplesage 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh, good. Drink for less. Get schnockered earlier in the day so we can look out for the drunks on the road at about 6., Alcohol is a scourge on society.

Getaroom 6 years, 2 months ago

Let's see now, how does that work in Brownbackistan? Hmmmmm - got it!

Drink specials(code for Happy Hour):
May I 'draw' your attention to the chalk board please, this afternoon we have ----

"9mm martinis" - half price if you show your Conceal Carry permit!

'Get Well' drinks: Drown your Troubles in Doubles (for the price of singles) Show your CC permit and your Voter ID!

This months Celeb special: Black-Eyed Martinis (also known as the 'The Rush Limbaugh'. Call a female bartender "slut" or "whore" and mean it, its your choice of which eye!

'Win or lose' draft night. Toss a coin, if you win, get the draft of your pick at half price and if you lose - you buy an aspirin for all the women in the bar of reproductive age!

It's tough to be, "has anyone seen my oxy Rush", but someone had to do it!!!

Paul R Getto 6 years, 2 months ago

LOL. Quit picking on that great entertainer, Rush, you meanie. I loved it when he got caught with his illegal viagra on the way back from his trip out-of-country to play with the little girls. He's a good guy just doing his job....if he can keep some advertisers on his side.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

How about half price food during happy hours for those who wish not to drink a lot or nothing?

In our younger days living elsewhere our choice of happy hours were based around the free deli choices. Salads and Mexican style finger foods usually got our business. Loved those mini toastados,rice,chips and Salsa. Black beans,cheese and fruits as well.

Italian goods were always a winner.

It was self service through and through.

Mixing the proper foods with the drinks seem like a swell idea.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 2 months ago

Uhhhh, half-price food specials is what a lot of the Kansas joints already run for Happy Hour since they can't discount drinks during that time period.

Shane Garrett 6 years, 2 months ago

I remember when the Stables had 10 cent beer cup and Taco bar. Tuesdays during the summer.

Getaroom 6 years, 2 months ago

And I was right there to serve you Wally. The good 'ol days with Ace!

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