Senate OKs Sunday alcohol sales in Shelby

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that leads the way for some Shelby County restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

The measure still needs the signature of Gov. Bob Riley, who has indicated he will not stand in its way.

The Sunday alcohol sales legislation was tacked on to another bill, whose main objective was to allow municipalities with less than 7,000 residents to hold referendums if they choose to decide whether alcohol could be sold on Mondays through Saturdays.

State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, amended that bill to restrict such referendums to municipalities whose residents number at least 1,000.

The Shelby County portion of the bills allows restaurants that currently serve liquor on Sundays to continue to do so. However, no new restaurants will be able to purchase Sunday alcohol sales permits.

Several months ago, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Commission notified restaurants in Shelby County which sell liquor on Sundays that they would no longer be allowed to do so after Sept. 30 of this year, when their licenses expire.

Restaurants with Sunday alcohol sales previously operated with a retail liquor license, which allows for alcohol sales Monday through Saturday, and a club license, which allows for the Sunday sales.

The Alabama ABC said the move was prompted because it changed its interpretation of the rules regulating club licenses. Its spokesman said the spirit of the club license was being violated when it was issued to retail restaurant.

State Rep. Jimmy Martin, R-Clanton, sponsored the bill in the state house, saying it was unfair to those restaurants who made significant investments in Shelby County based on their ability to sell alcohol on Sundays.