TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House on Friday rejected new alcohol rules that would have allowed homebrew contests and permitted alcohol to be served at the state Capitol, saying part of the legislation hadn't been properly considered.
The measure was a compromise bill, meaning negotiators wrote it after the House and Senate approved different versions of the measure. It also included rules mean to clarify the process for wine tastings, among other things.
The House objected to the bill because the section on contests for homebrews had never been approved by either the Senate or the House. The state currently doesn't allow such contests and has no procedures for how they would be held.
The legislation also would have set up rules for wine tastings, including how many drinks people can have and how the state would tax bottles that are served.
The bill also would have allowed alcohol to be served at the Statehouse. The intent was to allow drinks to be served during an event to mark completion of more than 10 years of renovations to the building. The measure would have given the Legislative Coordinating Council the authority to allow liquor to be served in the building.
Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, a Grinnell Republican and lead Senate negotiator on the compromise, said lawmakers will rework the bill after returning in May from their monthlong break.
The Senate had approved the legislation, despite a similar objection in that chamber that part of the compromise bill hadn't been considered before.
Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican, said passing legislation that hadn't been previously debated on either legislative floor was "a slippery slope" for policymakers.
Critics of liquor in the Statehouse argue that the language in the bill could be construed to allow drinking at any approved Statehouse function, perhaps even the legislative session.
But Sen. Julia Lynn said the $332 million Statehouse renovation project had transformed the building into a showcase worth celebrating. She also suggested that the building should be allowed for use for weddings or other receptions that would be regulated for alcohol consumption.
"We're not opening the Statehouse so we can stash a flask in our drawers," said Lynn, an Olathe Republican.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, Topeka Democrat, suggested that legislators pass a bill allowing liquor to be served specically for that event. They did that in 1999, when they approved a law explicitly allowing liquor to be served from Dec. 31, 1999, to Jan. 1, 2000, to mark the turn of the century.