Politics & Government

Kansas lawmakers vote to let you buy a drink at 6 a.m.

This new bill could let you drink when you eat out at 6 a.m.

A bill before Kansas Legislature would allow restaurants and bars to serve alcohol at 6 a.m. (Music by Getty Music)
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A bill before Kansas Legislature would allow restaurants and bars to serve alcohol at 6 a.m. (Music by Getty Music)

Kansas bars and restaurants may soon begin serving booze at the crack of dawn — or even before.

And you may be able to start using self-serve beer dispensers, too.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that will allow you to order drinks beginning at 6 a.m. — three hours earlier than current law. The restaurant and beverage industry sought the expanded hours, in part to take advantage of the growing popularity of brunch.

The bill also would legalize self-serve beer dispensers at bars and restaurants. The dispensers allow customers — within limits — to pour themselves as much or as little beer as they would like.

The changes will become law if Gov. Jeff Colyer signs the measure. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Proponents of the earlier serve time said it will benefit shift workers who are just wrapping up their work day at 6 a.m.

“When they get off work, it’s time for them to have dinner and a drink and this will help with that,” said Philip Bradley, a lobbyist for the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association. He added that the whole industry is pleased the bill passed.

The House approved HB 2470 in a 94-28 vote on Tuesday, after the Senate passed it 34-4 on Monday.

Opponents raised concerns about safety. Rep. Eric Smith, R-Burlington, spoke of how work at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant sometimes brings hundreds of temporary workers into his area, many working overnight shifts. He said he expects workers will go out for post-work drinks under the new law.

“Meanwhile, our children will be standing by the streets on the curb next to the highways,” Smith said. “After a few shots of tequila” the workers will head home, he said.

Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, questioned whether setting a start time of 9 a.m. is arbitrary. Many other states allow restaurants and bars to serve earlier, she noted.

It will benefit businesses, she said.

“It has been requested by a burgeoning business in Kansas: boutique breakfast places,” Williams said.

Jon Rolph, president of Wichita-based Sasnak Management, has previously said an earlier start time would benefit his company’s restaurant HomeGrown, a breakfast and lunch spot near Maize and 29th Street North.

Under the bill, licensed bars, restaurants and clubs will be able to provide automated devices that allow individuals pour their own beer. Automated wine dispensers are already legal.

Customers could buy a prepaid access card when they enter a bar that would allow them to pour beer from dispensers, the bill says. They would have to show identification to prove they are 21.

The card could be used to dispense up to 32 ounces of beer. The customer could again show identification to get an additional 32 ounces.

The legislation is part of an effort to legalize the business model of a planned downtown Topeka bar that would feature self-serve beer.

Topeka business leaders earlier this year awarded a $100,000 prize to entrepreneurs who plan to open a new bar, named Brew Bank, in downtown Topeka. It is set to feature a wall of self-serve beer taps.