Riley says no to Sunday alcohol sales

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has vetoed a bill that would have allowed Shelby County restaurants that currently sell alcohol on Sundays to continue to do so.

In a letter to the Alabama House of Representative, Riley wrote: “The bill, as currently drafted, is unconstitutional in that it attempts to treat two different and distinct issues in one bill. For the foregoing reason, I hereby veto House Bill No. 175.”

State Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton, said he learned Tuesday afternoon of the governor’s veto.

The legislation would have allowed Shelby County restaurants that currently hold a club license and sell alcohol on Sunday to continue was tacked on to a measure introduced in the Alabama House by Martin.

Martin’s legislation called for allowing citizens of municipalities with 7,000 or fewer voters to hold referendums and decide whether they want alcohol sales in their communities.

Martin said he expects the legislature will take up the bill next week and attempt to override the governor’s veto.

“We really don’t know why he vetoed it,” Martin said early Tuesday evening. “He said it’s unconstitutional, but it’s not unconstitutional until the courts rule on it.”

“The only thing I tried to do was give the people of small towns the right to vote on the sale of alcoholic beverages. Other places, with 7,000 residents and above, already have that option,” he said.

For years, restaurants in Shelby County who hold a club license in addition to a retail restaurant license have been able to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

However, earlier this year, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board changed its interpretation of Alabama law and notified all establishments with both licenses that they would no longer be granted the club license for Sunday sales as of Sept. 30, the date all such licenses expire.

The legislation vetoed this afternoon by Riley would have allowed those that currently sell alcohol on Sunday in Shelby County to continue to do so, but would not allow any other Sunday sales licenses to be granted.