Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
That’s what we’re talking about.
Ever wind up with one of those tough, gristly pieces of meat? You know, the kind that the more you chew it the bigger it gets?
Well, the Kansas Legislature is chewing over a lot of that sort of entrée this session: schools, tax cuts, pensions, voter registration, and reapportionment.
But, if there is an issue where there is a glimmer of hope for Kansans, it’s probably how you wash down that tough piece of meat.
Yes, we’re talking happy hour at bars.
In a session where the Senate is doing reconstructive surgery on the governor’s K-12 education plan and the House is getting cagey on income tax cuts, the Senate boldly resolved one pressing issue—happy hour.
And, in a legislative tour de force that might (or might not) become a piece of some scholarly article written by a university professor with tenure who uses his/her research sabbatical to keep their elbows limber, the Senate also has forged ahead with a bill that would allow liquor stores to offer up samples of liquor.
What a voter-friendly, consumer-friendly effort for those of us who have maybe forgotten from last night the subtle nuances of…gin, and could be served up to 1 ½ ounces of it while shopping for something to use to dilute soft drinks.
We’re guessing that on those palm cards that are the fuel of most legislative campaigns bullet point No. 1 or maybe No. 2 will be happy hour. Well, maybe in some counties, and probably not the cards that are stuck under the windshield wipers of cars parked outside the Nazarene church during Sunday services.
This isn’t just some feel-good legislation. The governor and Secretary of Commerce have been quiet on the issue so far. No press releases issued…yet. And we don’t recall happy hour as a part of the governor’s roadmap to prosperity, but most figured it was just one exit ramp away.
We’re hearing from bar owners that Missourians—and maybe even Oklahomans—might venture to Kansas for happy hour cut-price drinks, maybe stopping to shop here or invest in real estate or start a high-tech bioscience company.
We’re even seeing the importance of Gov. Sam Brownback’s push for reform of Kansas water law—which if you recall is his sole victory at the Legislature’s halfway-point—as it relates to the overriding issue of happy hour, because we’ve noticed on out-of-state forays that happy hour drinks tend to be a little strong on ice…which is just frozen water.
The other stuff?  That income tax cut bill that wanders through the House? A shakeup in school finance? Voter registration law changes and proof of citizenship whenever a cop gets curious about where you got that car? The state budget? Well, time will tell.
But, then again, happy hour approved by the Senate and headed to the House might just be the issue that jump-starts the Legislature, brings members together to work for important common goals for the Sunflower State. Or…it might just bring them together for a couple hours of cheaper drinks.
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