Nixon gets bill allowing alcohol sales at special Capitol events

If Gov. Jay Nixon agrees, Missourians may be able to buy alcohol at the Capitol — but only during special events and only through the end of 2024.

The Senate Tuesday passed the House-passed bill on a 25-4 vote.

Senate sponsor Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, noted the House approved the measure by a 151-1 margin, and the Senate passed Kehoe’s version of the bill in March, on a 30-3 vote.

The Senate bill still is waiting to be debated by the full House.

“This bill grants the Capitol Commission and the Office of Administration the authority to enter into contracts for vending products here in the state Capitol,” Kehoe explained Tuesday, “only in conjunction with our commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Capitol.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, worried that alcohol sales in the Capitol would set a bad example for students who visit the building, especially in the spring months while lawmakers also are here.

“This would not be somebody rolling in a beer cart in the middle of the day, with the school groups here, and just opening up shop and starting to sell whatever they want to sell,” Kehoe countered.

“It would have to be authorized by the Capitol Commission. And we would be able to make sure that we didn’t have them here at times that would be not proper, according to what the Capitol was doing.”

Kehoe is a member of the commission, which was created in 2001 and is charged with the Capitol’s preservation, restoration, and renovation — and the recording of its history.

The commission envisions a number of special events connected with the 100th anniversary of events in the construction of the current building, like the cornerstone laying, the date lawmakers began working in the building and its official dedication in the fall of 1914.

“We are going to try to build awareness in this building and try to get people to help participate in protecting some of the great artwork, and artifacts and history of the building,” Kehoe explained. “To do that — even though there are some state funds involved — we would like to develop a public partnership as well, so the members of the general public, and corporations around the state, can come and, potentially, raise money to help get this building ready for the next 100 years.”

Proceeds from the sale of food and beverages would help with that.

“If they wanted to have a glass of wine from one of our over 100 wineries in the state, or beer that was brewed by one of our great breweries in the state,” Kehoe said, “I would hope that those are available for folks to partake during that event.”

Senators, with a loud voice-vote, rejected Sen. Ed Emery’s proposed amendment to strip alcohol sales from the bill.

“The bill just simply opens up the Capitol to vendors, including those who would sell alcohol,” Emery, R-Lamar, argued, “and I just believe that’s something that it would be better to keep the practices that we follow now.”

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