Legislature unlikely to allow vote on Sunday alcohol sales
by David Atchison
Mar 31, 2012 | 2068 views |  2 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s unlikely local delegates will introduce legislation in Montgomery which will allow residents to vote on whether the city should allow Sunday alcohol sales.

“I don’t see it happening,” said Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston.

The Pell City Council unanimously passed a resolution in March 2011, which was forwarded to the local delegation.

The resolution requests that the delegation introduce a local bill, which would allow voters to determine whether alcohol is sold on Sundays in Pell City.

City officials said in February that they met with Sens. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Wood about the resolution.

Local officials said the city is losing tax revenue because stores and restaurants inside the city cannot sell alcohol on Sundays.

The mayor and council said they believe the public would support alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday in Pell City.

Rep. James McClendon, R-Springville, said nobody from the local delegation has formally spoken to him about local legislation authorizing a vote by Pell City residents to legalize Sunday alcohol sales.

“But, I am aware of it,” he said.

McClendon said he talked with Pell City Mayor Bill Hereford about the matter and knew that Marsh and Wood met with city officials in December about the desired legislation.

McClendon said it’s still not too late to introduce local legislation that would authorize a citywide referendum on the matter. He said legislators are expected to continue meeting in Montgomery until May 21.

“There’s time to do a local bill, if you can get members of the local delegation in agreement,” he said.

Officials said local legislation must have support of all the local delegates before a local bill is introduced to the House of Representatives or Senate.

Local delegates Rep. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds and Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Rainbow City, said they do not support Sunday alcohol sales.

Drake said if he had his way, Sunday liquor sales would be illegal everywhere.

“I believe Sunday is for the Lord,” he said.

Drake said he was unaware Pell City had passed a resolution seeking the support of the delegation to introduce local legislation authorizing a vote by the people about whether alcohol could be sold in Pell City on Sundays.

“We haven’t had a delegation meeting on this matter,” Galliher said. “I would be opposed to Sunday sales.”

Questions have also surfaced about House Bill 237, which was sponsored by Wood and is currently in the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and whether that bill could lead to Sunday alcohol sales in Pell City.

“I have a lot of questions about that bill,” Galliher said.

The proposed bill is an amendment to the Code of Alabama 1975, relating to tax on beer.

“This bill would provide that the portion of the beer tax revenues collected from Sunday sales of beer within the corporate limits of the city of Pell City, if authorized by the Legislature and approved by the voters of St. Clair County, shall be distributed to the public library located in the city of Pell City,” HB 237 states.

“I don’t understand the implications of this bill,” Galliher said.

The bill had its first reading in committee on Feb. 8, according to the state’s legislative website.

The bill also provides guidance on how beer tax revenue is spent in other counties throughout the state.

Wood said the HB 237 should have nothing to do with Sunday alcohol sales in Pell City, and the wording of the bill is a mistake.

Legislators said the bill is a Constitutional Amendment and requires two-thirds vote by the House, if the bill manages to get out of committee for a House vote.

Hereford said city officials just want to allow the citizens an opportunity to decide whether the city should allow alcohol sales on Sundays.

He is still hopeful a bill is introduced and passed by state legislators, allowing residents to vote on whether the city should allow Sunday liquor sales.

“At the very least, I hope the bill is introduced and considered by the legislators,” Hereford said.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

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