Sunday morning beer sales
Commissioner calls move disrespecul, warns fatalities could result
Despite a dire warning and a strong rebuke from a lone dissenter, county commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to allow beer sales before noon on Sundays.
The vote, commissioner Kent Becker said afterward, “showed a great deal of disrespect for the faith community.”
“And it could lead to our first fatality on the reservoir,” he warned. “There’s going to be a fatality out there if we start letting them buy alcohol at 9 in the morning.”
The topic had not been on the commissioners’ agenda Monday. Many states do not allow elected bodies to take action on issues not on their agenda, but Kansas had no such prohibition.
Moreover, an additional vote, amending the county’s alcohol resolution, may still be required before the ban on Sunday morning sales is officially lifted.
The idea of Sunday morning sales came up when county clerk Tina Spencer informed commissioners that what she described as a small bait shop at the reservoir had asked for permission to speak at a future meeting.
She said the bait shop wanted special permission to sell beer from 9 a.m. until noon on Sundays because of a recent change in state law.
After stores along the state’s borders complained that they were losing sales to competitors in other states without Kansas’ statewide prohibition on alcohol sales before noon on Sunday, the legislature voted to allow individual counties to decide whether to allow sales as early as 9 a.m. on Sundays.
After discussing whether it would be appropriate to set special hours for one business or for the entire county, commissioners opted to instruct staff to write a resolution adopting no special county limits and simply following in lockstep whatever limits the state might set.
“I don’t like to give up any power to a state or federal mandate,” Becker said in an emotional commentary after the vote occurred.
He criticized fellow commissioners for taking only a few moments to consider the issue.
“We just spent a grand total of only five minutes approving additional liquor sales,” he said. “There’s an alcohol problem in this county like there is in other counties.”
During discussion before the vote, commissioner Jonah Gehring urged commissioners to mirror statewide rules.
“If you don’t have it, they’re bringing it from home,” he said. “I can see the economic driver out of it.”
He spoke of sales tax revenue that might be lost in the county banned sales before noon.
Becker shot back, saying: “It’s not that big of an economic driver.”
Commission chairman David Mueller moved to set county hours the same as what the state allows. Gehring seconded, and commissioners David Crofoot and Randy Dallke sided with them.