The Upcoming Booze Ballot
Unless I remember to buy my booze Monday through Saturday, the guvmint says I can’t make my Guiness Stew on Sunday. Why does the guvmint hate my Guiness stew (recipe included below)? I can buy my booze M-Sat. because I live in Pulaski County, but what if I lived in Cleburne county? Nope. And none of the counties surrounding Cleburne sell alcohol either.
But, that could all change soon with a new ballot proposal by attorney David Couch (LR) to amend the Arkansas constitution, which would allow the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages everywhere in Arkansas. That means no more local dry jurisdictions. Instead, regulation would be left to the legislature (who couldn’t prohibit it).
The Log Cabin reports that Let Arkansas Decide, the committee behind the statewide “wet” ballot initiative, has turned in almost 85,000 signatures. To put the constitutional amendment that would end “dry” counties in Arkansas to the voters on the November ballot, at least 78,133 of the signatures have to be verified.
- The usual religious suspects leftover from 1953.
- Maybe beer distributors because limits the amount of stops they have to make. Make the customers go to the wet counties means fewer drop offs.
- Liquor store owners (Sunday sales). You get a day off and no competitors steal your sales. Same purchase volume in 6 days as there would be in 7.
Pushing For the Ballot Proposal:
The retail industry, particularly Wal-Mart.
- 1836 Arkansas obtains Statehood.
- 1837 Arkansas bans all business on Sundays, which is known as a “Blue Law.”
- 1920 Prohibition begins
- 1933 Prohibition ends
- 1982 I was born. Also, the Blue Law was repealed, but the Code still provided that a city board or council could regulate the operation of businesses within their city on Sunday.
- 1987 Arkansas passed laws about selling alcohol on Sundays statewide.
So here we are: it’s the Year of Our Lord 2014 and you can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a wet county:
- On a Sunday, unless your county/city has voted to allow it, and then only from 10:00am to midnight.
- On a weekday between 1:00 am and 7:00 am.
You can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a dry county at all.
Restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays in most cases, and some microbreweries are allowed to sell growlers. Alcohol is not sold on Christmas Day in Arkansas. Arkansas has a tiered alcohol licensing system. Class A licenses allow alcohol service from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Class B licenses allow alcohol service from 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. A restaurant license allows alcohol service until 1 a.m.
Dry County v. Dry City
Arkansas has 75 counties, and about half are dry.
A city can elect to go dry in a wet county, but it can’t elect to go wet in a dry county. This is even more complicated if the county has two county seats, where one district may elect to go wet and the other dry (like Sebastian and Logan Counties).