Council to decide: Time to lose liquor permits for workers?

Public safety concerns loom on one side – on the other is whether felony convictions should bar honest work in common jobs.

A public debate opened yesterday on whether to repeal a requirement that workers who handle liquor get permits from the city.

After running out of time, the city council public safety committee agreed to continue hearing the matter next week.

Speakers for the restaurant and hotel industries said the so-called liquor cards are a needless financial and regulatory burden.

But Jim Ready, manager of the Regulated Industries division, said they protect the public by keeping dangerous people from contact with liquor and driver license and credit card information.

He read from newspaper accounts of crimes in other cities, such as bartenders or bouncers drugging and raping women.

Regulated Industries does background checks on people who apply for the cards, which cost $42 for three years.

They are required for those who “accept delivery of liquor, stock liquor, arrange displays of liquor, accepting payment of liquor, mixing liquor or serving liquor.”

Also, bar managers, bartenders, waiters, waitresses, cashiers, sales clerks, stock people and doormen must get the permits.

Among those who can never get them are murderers, sex offenders and child molesters. People who commit violent crimes like assaults and robberies must wait eight years from release and drug sales offenders must wait four years.

Jason Pryor of the Kansas City Restaurant Association called the permits “a fee-based regressive tax.”

Just as the city ended food handler permits about five years ago, he said, it should end this.

It is a burden on innocent workers and businesses, he said, and on convicted felons who are trying to get honest work.

Michael Gorozzo, owner of several Italian restaurants, noted that cities in Johnson County and many other surrounding areas do not have the permits.

“Give us the same opportunities we have in the other cities and eliminate it,” he said. “We’re hitting (workers) with a $42 fine because they want to work.”

He and other restaurant owners said it was a burden when city inspectors come in during rush periods and demand to see everyone’s liquor permits.

Michelle Wycoff, who said she was a former police officer and a former bar worker, said it would be irresponsible to put some felons in a position to pour drinks.

She and others said that it is common for paroled felons to return to prison, that “some just come out as better criminals.”

Councilman John Sharp said the committee might start meeting earlier next week to allow more time for citizen input.


  1. Joe the Red says:

    “some just come out as better criminals.” Yes I agree we need more rehabilitation and prison reform. But we were talking about the liquor laws.

    Any studies showing areas with mandatory liquor licenses lead to less alcohol related crime? Or did we do any research before enacting these laws? I wouldn’t be surprised if most pro licensing arguments begin with “Well, don’t you think…” No please show me evidence or at least an argumentative stance

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