A bill passed by the Kansas Legislature would allow people in certain entertainment districts to walk around with an alcoholic drink in hand, as is currently allowed in an area of Kansas City’s Power & Light District.
The bill, which still needs Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature, gives cities and counties the ability to create “common consumption areas.”
Officials with the city of Lenexa pushed for the bill, according to legislative testimony, in hopes of adding another element to a city attraction.
Rep. Tom Cox, a Shawnee Republican who helped maneuver the bill through the Legislature, said the areas would be an economic development tool.
“What Power & Light is, that’s exactly what we’re trying to create,” Cox said of the popular Kansas City drinking and dining area.
The legislation stems from the development of Lenexa City Center, a large mixed-use development near 87th Street Parkway and Interstate 435 that will include a new City Hall building and a community center.
Part of the development is Lenexa Public Market, an 11,000-square-foot indoor marketplace. Lenexa officials expect local businesses to lease space within the market, including a tap room and a restaurant where customers can buy a drink.
Lenexa officials hoped customers could carry a drink from one place within the market to another, something current law prohibits.
“We’re all contained within a building, the city owns everything, it doesn’t make sense that you can’t buy a beer from the beer guy and go across and buy some jewelry,” said Mike Nolan, an assistant city manager.
While Lenexa has pushed for the bill, cities and counties across the state would be able to create similar districts. Cox said he’s already aware of other cities that will try to create the areas if the bill becomes law.
The bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Only a handful of legislators in either chamber voted against the bill.
Sen. Larry Alley, a Winfield Republican, voted against the legislation, calling it “too loose of a bill,” and said it wasn’t clear how the alcohol would be controlled.
“I didn’t think we needed it in Kansas,” he said.
It’s unclear what Brownback will do with the legislation.