If corporations booze, locals may lose

Liquor law fears are seriously overstated

JEFFREY TANGNEY | Copy Editor

The Kansas Sen- ate supported a bill that would allow grocery and conve- nience stores to sell alcoholic beverages containing up to 5.0 percent, as opposed to the traditional 3.2 percent. I honestly don’t see that big of a difference between the two.
The main opponents are liquor-store owners, who say the bigger chains of stores could drive them out of business. I take issue with this statement, as Kansas is one of only five states that currently have a difference between alcohol sold in liquor stores and alcohol sold in conve- nience stores.
The main argument against the bill is that the larger chains of convenience and grocery stores would drive existing liquor stores out of business. There are two problems with this view. One, liquor stores and convenience stores are existing in harmony in the 45 states that already function as Kansas is proposing. If there were evidence that liquor stores would be driven out of business then I might agree with this view. However, I have not seen myself, nor have I seen any data suggest- ing that this is true. Second, liquor stores would continue to offer a wider selection of products that convenience stores and grocery stores just could not match if they were to keep prices low. People crave variety, and liquor stores would remain the only place that could offer it.
Another reason convenience stores and grocery stores should be allowed to sell 5.0 alcohol is their more flexible hours of operation. I tend to purchase my alcohol in liquor stores, and I don’t do so because they sell stronger beer. I buy from liquor stores because they have a wider variety and larger quantities for a decent price. The only times I buy from convenience stores are when I am making a purchase between 11 p.m. and midnight, when the liquor store I frequent is closed. However, 99 percent of the time I purchase at liquor
stores. Why do we bother lim-
iting who can sell what? Is it because the stronger stuff will get someone more inebriated than the weaker alcohol? I would say no. The strength wouldn’t matter if
someone were determined to get smashed to the point where they danced like a lepre- chaun. They could buy a
larger quantity of 3.2 and still be as affected or worse as if they bought a smaller quantity of stronger alcohol.
Further, denying convenience stores and grocery stores the ability to sell 5.0 is discrimination. If such a store wanted to sell 5.0, and
it was willing to get a license to do so, then it should be able to. The law would not require those stores to sell 5.0 and there is no evidence showing that every convenience store will want to sell 5.0. The concerns of the opponents are based merely on wild speculation and fear-mongering, not in fact. If there is no data proving there is a significant negative impact from such a law then there is no reason to prevent it from taking effect.
The current law banning convenience stores from selling alcohol at 5.0 percent is antiquated and obsolete compared to most of the country. The opposition’s claims are based on speculation, worst- case scenarios and lack any data sup- porting their claims. I applaud the State of Kansas for taking steps to update its liquor laws to something more in line with the 21st century.

Proposed bill threatens businesses, public safety

KAYLA ARNOLD | Guest Columnist
I have been lucky enough to work at a widely known and popular liquor store, Pitt Discount Liquor. We pride ourselves on providing a fun, customer-
ccommerce. HB 2532 is a bill that would al- low grocery stores and convenience stores to sell alcohol stronger than 3.2 percent. If HB 2532 is passed, more than 450 small businesses like ours
will be at risk of closing. The revenue these stores would normally see would be passed on to large corporations, such as Walmart. This would send your money out of state to places such as Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas.
While I am an employee of Pitt Dis- count Liquor and a student here at PSU, I am also a single mother of a 4-year- old boy. While it is a chore, it is some- times necessary to go to Walmart with
the little rascal. If HB 2532 is passed, we will have to pass numerous displays
of whiskey, vodka, beer and wine, just to get my son a box of cereal. This is not something I want him exposed to at the age of 4. While my son will clearly not attempt to buy alcohol, other minors may. Hav- ing more stores with accessible alcohol dramatically increases the chance of minors attempting to purchase alcohol, and it could potentially put more drunken drivers on the
streets, endangering our lives and the lives of our children.
Supporters of HB 2532 really only have one argu-
ment, “convenience.” My question is, just how
more convenient can life be? Our smart- phones can now plan weddings with people
who we aren’t even in relationships with! Convenience
should not be a factor when decid- ing whether to pass HB 2532. Drinking
alcohol is a recreational activity, and there should be designated stores that would be able to monitor those wishing to purchase it. If we want convenience, how about Wal- mart starts doing my homework for me? THAT would be convenient.

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