A Kansas Senate committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill that would allow liquor stores to open at 9 a.m. on Sundays. Under current law, liquor stores can only operate on Sundays between noon and 8 p.m.
Whitney Damron, a  lobbyist for the Kansas Association for Responsible Liquor Laws, Inc., testified in favor of the bill, SB 456. He told the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs that the expanded hours would be more convenient for customers, especially during the NFL season.
“One of the primary drivers of this request, quite frankly, is the NFL football season with games starting at 12 noon,” Damron said. “Retailers believe it would be of interest and benefit for their customers if their hours of sale, still dependent on local control, could be adjusted to an earlier time.”
Becky Schwartz, associate executive director of the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association of Kansas, also said the bill would benefit consumers.
“Our members have been asked by their customers to sell beer earlier than noon for several years,” Schwartz said. “Our customers are usually on their way to the lake, a tailgate for a sporting event or even a family gathering for noon and would like to take care of their Sunday shopping prior to those.”
Damron and Schwartz, however, both requested that the bill be amended to allow the sale of alcohol to begin at 10 a.m. on Sundays, as opposed to at 9 a.m.
“We have heard from a number of retailers that a 9 a.m. time is earlier than needed,” Damron said.
Amy Campbell, executive director of the Kansas Association of Beverage Retailers, said the bill was necessary because Kansas stores along the border lose sales to Missouri, which allows the sale of alcohol on Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight.
“When Kansas passed its Sunday sales law, Missouri very quickly amended its laws to open up earlier Sunday hours — a change that affects our eastern border stores to this day,” Campbell said.
The bill would not prohibit Kansas cities from restricting or prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, said the committee would likely work the bill early next week.