Brunch Bill Advances in House with County Referedum Intact

Mar 7, 2016

The House Judiciary has advanced a bill that would allow restaurants, wineries and distilleries to sell alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays if county voters approve of the change through a referendum. 

As approved by the committee, though, the bill does not require county commissioners to hold elections to allow the sales, only permits such ballot measures. 

Senators approved the bill unanimously last month without the election provision. That portion was amended in by the House Roads and Transportation Committee. 

"Tourism is obviously a major industry in Fayette County," Del. Kayla Kessinger said of her district where she recently toured local rafting and hiking resorts. "The one thing they said could help their business was this brunch bill."

Previous testimony before lawmakers indicated allowing the sale of alcohol to begin at 10 a.m. rather than the current 1 p.m. could increase profits by some $20 million in the state.

Del. Mike Azinger spoke against the provision, calling it a bill that "is chipping away at the sacred."

"So, like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, this bill is being argued in the context of money, but this country wasn't founded on money, it was founded on a love of God."

With the committee's approval, the bill now heads to the full House for consideration. The bill could be up for a vote by Friday, but, after receiving amendments, would have to return to the Senate for its approval before heading to the Governor for a signature. 

If the bill does make it through the legislative process, counties could have the provisions on a ballot as soon as November.