Most people who work in Kansas City, Missouri businesses that serve liquor—whether a server or a bouncer—have to pay $42 on an employee liquor permit. Some local business owners are now saying the rule is unfair and makes it harder for low-income workers to get jobs.
"You can't put roadblocks in front of people to get jobs," business owner Bill Nigro told local news station KSHB. "People come into bars and restaurants for work, they're penniless.”
Kansas City, Missouri is among the few places in the country where employees of alcohol-serving establishments are required to carry permits. City officials, however, say such permits allow the government to make sure that establishments stay safe.
About half of the $42 permit fee is used to conduct a national background check on prospective employees, allowing them to weed out convicted and dangerous felons. “This is a bad analogy, but you do not want a sex offender serving drinks in a liquor establishment," Jim Ready, head of Kansas City’s Regulated Industries Division, told KSHB. The rest of the fee is put toward maintaining the Regulated Industries Division.
Beyond the issues of cost to employees, other business owners argue that the city shouldn’t limit the prospects of felons trying to find jobs in the restaurant industry. Craig Glazer, a Kansas City nightclub owner, wrote an op-ed in local blog, TonysKansasCity.com, about the issue, saying it makes no sense to ban someone from working in a bar or restaurant because of an unrelated crime they committed many years ago. It only makes it harder for convicted felons to turn their lives around.
“These rules and laws are clearly antiquated and outdated,” Glazer wrote. “By disallowing people who want to work and make a decent income positions in restaurants, bars or entertainment, it severely limits their economic opportunities. This can force some of them back to criminal activity as whatever job they might find is unable to pay their bills, especially in the urban core.”
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