By Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A group of grocery and convenience stores in Kansas has proposed a new plan for expanding liquor sales, saying it would generate a $41 million cash infusion toward the state’s budget deficit.

The Uncork Kansas coalition is proposing that large retailers would be able to buy full liquor licenses directly from the state, The Wichita Eagle ( ) reported. That would eliminate current laws that limit them to selling beer with an alcohol percentage less than 3.2 percent.

The new plan abandons earlier efforts that would’ve required big-box stores to buy liquor licenses of small businesses. Those businesses are currently the only stores in the state allowed to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits.

Uncork Kansas represents major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Dillons and Hy-Vee, and convenience stores, such as QuikTrip.

Under the plan, about 165 of the state’s largest grocers would pay $200,000 per license, which could generate $32.6 million. Smaller stores would pay on a graduated scale from $10,000 to $100,000 per license, for about $8.4 million.

Efforts to expand alcohol sales have been fended off for years by smaller liquor-only stores that argue it would run them out of business, decrease the property-tax base in struggling rural communities and strand the investments they’ve made in their stores.

Tuck Duncan, a lobbyist for the Kansas Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association - an organization that opposes liquor and wine in grocery stores - said that the proposal is clearly a bribe and that enacting it would hurt small retailers.

“They’re willing to pay $200,000 for the privilege of selling liquor,” Duncan said. “Don’t tell me that this is a magnanimous, gratuitous offer to benefit the state of Kansas. It has absolutely nothing to do with that.”


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle,

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