Kansas Senate passes sale of full-strength beer by grocery stores

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

Grocery and convenience stores could start stocking full-strength beer in two years under a bill passed this week by the Legislature.

The Senate passed the bill 27-11 on Friday. The House passed it 80-45 on Thursday.

Under the bill, grocery and convenience stores could sell beer with up to 6 percent alcohol by volume, while liquor stores could sell more non-alcoholic products, like mixers, shot glasses, lottery tickets and tobacco products.

Some lawmakers were concerned that large grocery chains stocking full-strength beer could put small liquor stores out of business.

The bill is a compromise between the two industries and their associations after a years-long effort to get wine, liquor and full-strength beer into grocery and convenience stores.

The bill still needs Gov. Sam Brownback's signature.

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The Kansas House has voted to give grocery stores the right to sell full-strength beer, overcoming the state's history of strict liquor laws.

The bill passed 80 to 45 Thursday. Most of the opposition came from lawmakers who were concerned that competition with large grocery chains would put small liquor stores out of business.

Under the bill, grocery stores could sell beer that has up to 6 percent alcohol by volume. Now they can only sell cereal malt beverage with just 3.2 percent alcohol by volume.

The bill still needs a Senate vote.

The House vote contrasts with the state's intense temperance movement, led in part by Carrie Nation in the early 1900s. Kansas' prohibition began in 1881 and didn't end until 1948. National prohibition lasted just 14 years.

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