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The Topekans weigh in on the new alcohol bill

TOPEKA (KSNT) — The city of Topeka has asked the Kansas legislature to expand the state’s common consumption bill.

If passed, it would change the current law to allow for more flexibility in the community.

In putting together the 2023 Agenda, members of the public suggested that shared drinking would attract more young people to events downtown and in the North Topeka Arts District (NOTO).

So, the city decided to listen to the people and bring it to the attention of state legislators. If passed, the city would draft an ordinance on how common consumption zones would function. It would include the time of day, the location and which companies would be taking part.

“All of this would be discussed locally by the governing body after speaking with citizens and the business communities to figure out what works best for us,” Topeka City Attorney Amanda Stanley said. “And those could be different areas depending on let’s say you want a different day in NOTO than the Thursday night concerts downtown, for example. So, there’s a lot of flexibility to make that work best for Topeka.

In the past, the owners of NOTO’s Studio 62 Art Bar say strict alcohol laws have hurt their business.

“We’ve had people say, ‘we can take this to go,'” Cies Smith said. “No, you can’t take it to go. Okay, I’ll take nothing or just take one soda, which reduces our sales.

If the bill passes the Kansas legislature, Stanley says it will do more than bring dollars to businesses.

“Its economic impact on your community as a whole,” Stanley said. “If you can have an event and buy food and walk down the street, you’ll naturally stay in the place longer.”

Smith says this would create the perfect opportunity for the community to support local businesses.

“I feel like if we could all work together, like, people could bar hop,” Smith said. “Like, oh, I’m going to have a drink here and then I walk down the road and get something from The Wheel Barrel or The Norsemen. I think it would be helpful.”

This bill will go before the Kansas State Legislature on Tuesday, January 31. If approved, it could require all public roads to be blocked from traffic during times when public consumption is permitted.

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