TOPEKA — BYOB is A-OK with the Kansas Legislature.
On Friday, the House sent the governor a bill to allow nearly all businesses without liquor licenses to let customers bring their own alcoholic beverages.
It also clears the way for open-bar events at what has been a “dry” state Capitol building, and expanded alcohol sales at the Kansas State Fair.
The measure, House Bill 2223, passed 90-30. It had easily cleared the Senate the day before, after it was amended to address concerns over the bring-your-own-bottle provision raised by the city of Wichita.
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BYOB was originally intended to allow participants in art studio painting parties to bring their own wine.
Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, spoke in favor of the measure on the floor and served on the conference committee that finalized the bill.
The BYOB provision resulted from floor amendments brought by Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, in the House and Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, in the Senate.
The Hildabrand and O’Donnell amendments went beyond art studios to extend BYOB privileges to all businesses. Couture-Lovelady said he did not ask either legislator to propose that.
Wichita officials and police worried that such a sweeping deregulation could be used by “after-hours” clubs to keep the drinking going beyond the 2 a.m. cutoff for alcohol sales in bars.
The city also worried that “bad actor” bar owners who lose their liquor licenses for misconduct would be able to stay in business with a BYOB business model.
The bill came back after conference negotiators, including Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, agreed to compromise language limiting BYOB privileges.
▪ No BYOB between the hours of midnight and 9 a.m.
▪ The business can’t have a “cover charge” or entry fee.
▪ The BYOB alcohol has to stay in the personal possession of the customer who brings it.
▪ Employees can’t sell or serve the booze.
▪ People who have had a liquor license revoked are disqualified from operating a BYOB business.
Wichita withdrew its objections to the bill after the changes were made.
The bill also would allow some limited drinking to take place in the Capitol building.
Alcohol would be allowed in the Statehouse for official events with the permission of the Legislative Coordinating Council, a group of House and Senate leaders.
Supporters of the bill said the authority would be rarely used. Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, cited the example of the New Year’s celebration in 2000, when the Legislature had to pass a law to allow a champagne toast for the turn of the millennium.
The bill also would allow for alcohol sales at farmers markets, let manufacturers offer tastings of alcoholic beverages, expand alcohol sales at the State Fair and make numerous technical changes in alcohol enforcement.
So many measures were bundled together – and had been discussed in the House so many times – that one unidentified but worn-down legislator drew laughter when he shouted “Aye!” in the middle of Brunk’s lengthy explanation of the bill.
Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita, moved to send the bill back to committee for further work. He said he had “real heatburn” over the provisions allowing alcohol at the Capitol and expanded drinking at the State Fair, because those venues are supposed to be family friendly.
Scapa’s motion was practically shouted down in a voice vote.
Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.