KC Liquor Card Debate Brews at City Hall

City Council members are expected to debate the future of the city’s liquor card program for bartenders and servers who work in the city.

The city requires bartenders and servers to have up to date $42 card in order to work in the city’s restaurants and bars. Years ago, the card was started in an effort to control organized crime’s infiltration into the city’s nightclub and bar business.
The head of the city’s regulated industries division, Jim Ready says the card system now provides a way to check the background of those who apply for it.

“Right now we have a background check as part of the liquor card process. We stopped 54 felons from serving alcohol last year alone,” said City Councilman Scott Taylor.

Ready says his agencies enforces the city liquor laws.

Whether you’re over serving individuals are serving to minors, I can hold that person’s feet to the fire,” Ready said Wednesday.

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association members, and others disagree. Member Jason Pryor says the cards are nothing more than a ‘sin tax’ for City Hall. Pryor says they are claiming, without any proof, bartenders and servers need criminal background check because “our employees are likely to perpetrate a crime any more than anyone else in the public”.

”If you’re looking to promote public safety, don’t just look at the fear, let’s look at the facts. And the facts tell a very different story,” added Councilman Scott Wager, another critic of the city liquor cards.

Critics point out the bartender and servers in Johnson and Wyandotte County in the metro do not need city-issued cards to work.

The city also issues cards to other occupations. Taxis and for-hire drivers, for example, are required to have city issued cards.

The same is true for most people who work in the city’s adult entertainment field.

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