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Kansas Supreme Court Selected Opinion Summaries
State ex rel Kline v. Unified Board of Commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City and the Mayor and Council of the City of Edwardsville, Kansas, Appeal No. 90,578
March 19, 2004

Summaries and press releases are prepared by Ron Keefover, Office of Judicial Administration, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 West 10th, Topeka, KS 66612-1507 (785-296-2256), e-mail: keefoverr@kscourts.org.


RE: Appeal No. 90,578: State ex rel Kline v. Unified Board of Commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City and the Mayor and Council of the City of Edwardsville, Kansas

The Supreme Court today unanimously upheld the authority of cities and counties to opt out of provisions of the State Liquor Control Act that prohibit the sale of liquor on Sunday.

The ruling affirms a Wyandotte County District Court decision rejecting challenges to local ordinances permitting Sunday liquor sales that were adopted by the Wyandotte County Unified Government and the City of Edwardsville.

Justice Donald Allegrucci, writing for the court, said the cities may use their home rule powers to opt out of the Act because its provisions are not uniformly applied to all cities.

He wrote that the District Court was correct in concluding that at least three sections of the Liquor Control Act do not apply uniformly to all cities. He said the Act differentiates between cities based on population on who will be counted in an election to approve package sales of alcohol, in determining the number of signatures required on a petition to place the issue of liquor sales on the ballot and when it comes to allowing alcohol consumption in drinking establishments on property owned by an airport authority.

However, Justice Allegrucci said, "home rule of liquor sales by cities is preventable by the simple means of uniformly applicable legislative enactment."

Justice Allegrucci said the cities' authority to opt out of the Liquor Act is "granted directly from the people through the Home Rule Amendment to the Kansas Constitution."

"Since the Liquor Control Act is not uniform, cities may charter out from under the Act. The decision to preempt liquor control still rests with the legislature; it could decide to do so by making the Liquor Control Act uniformly applicable to all cities," today's decision concluded.

Briefs on both sides of the issue were filed as "friends of the court" in the case. Two of the briefs­filed by the City Attorneys Association of Kansas and the League of Kansas Municipalities­urged the Supreme Court to affirm the district court. A third filed on behalf the Kansas Association of Beverage Retailers advocated reversing the district court decision, and the fourth (by the Kansas Beer Wholesalers Assn.) urged the court to find the phrase "on Sunday" in the Liquor Control Act unconstitutional and strike it from the Act.

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