Voters may decide Sunday alcohol sales in Shelby County

Shelby County voters may have a chance to decide if Sunday alcohol sales will be allowed during a 2016 vote. (File)

Shelby County voters may have a chance to decide if Sunday alcohol sales will be allowed during a 2016 vote. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Shelby County voters will get a chance to decide in 2016 if Shelby County will allow Sunday alcohol sales if a Mike Hill-sponsored bill passes the Alabama Senate this week.

State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, sponsored the local amendment to the Alabama Constitution in the Alabama House of Representatives during this year’s legislative session. State reps. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, and April Weaver, R-Brierfield, co-sponsored the bill.

As of March 31, the bill had passed the House, and was under consideration by the state Senate.

If passed, the bill would put Shelby County Sunday alcohol sales to a public vote during the next countywide vote, which will come with the next presidential primary election in March 2016.

If the matter is approved by Shelby County voters, it will allow Alcoholic Beverage Control Board-licensed retailers to sell alcoholic beverages in Shelby County after noon on Sundays. Sunday alcohol sales currently are outlawed in Shelby County for businesses without a private club license.

Hill said his decision to sponsor the bill was “strictly economic,” and said the county’s current private club license system makes it difficult to attract new businesses to Shelby County.

Hill said the state ABC board did away with private club licenses about six years ago, but grandfathered in businesses already holding the licenses at the request of state legislators.

While some Shelby County businesses currently hold private club licenses through the grandfather clause, new businesses are not able to obtain the licenses.

“Now, when a restaurant wants to come to Shelby County, they are competing with Jefferson County and with their neighbors in Shelby County that were grandfathered in,” Hill said. “(Sunday alcohol sales are) not something I particularly care about, but we’ve got to do it if we want to keep economic development going in Shelby County.”

Hill said Sunday alcohol sales could be allowed by an act of the Legislature, but said local representatives wanted to put it to a public vote.

“We’re trying to do it right,” Hill said. “If the voters pass it, that’s fine. If they don’t that’s fine too.”