County begins process of Sunday alcohol sales pursuit

Published 3:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2017

Just days after an ordinance allowing Sunday alcohol sales took effect in the City of Troy, the Pike County Commission has begun their own path to legalizing the practice.

Commissioners voted 5-1 in favor of a resolution asking Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Pike, and Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Pike, to draft a local bill authorizing the commission to hold a vote on the policy.

As written, the requested bill would give the commission the authority to either vote directly as a governing body or to put it to a referendum for Pike County citizens.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Allen Jones, attorney for the county, said that process could take a few months depending on what state legislators do.

“We would hope it would be passed this session,” Jones said.

The legislative session begins in January and can constitutionally last up to 105 calendar days.

The City of Troy wen through this same process at the beginning of this year, except the council’s request explicitly outlined that the vote would be a referendum, with no chance of the council holding a direct vote on the matter.

The commission’s request would allow them to hold a direct vote or a referendum.

“We’ve historically gone with a referendum,” Boothe said. “But Jimmy (Holley) and I will get together and discuss it and determine how to proceed.”

Jones said that if the legislature gives the commission authority to take either option, the commission can simply put forward a motion to hold the referendum or to enact the policy by a direct vote.

With six commissioners at the table, Jones explained what would happen if there is a tie.

“If they tie, it dies for lack of a majority,” Jones said. “There is an agenda rule that in the case of a tie vote, it can stay on the agenda but it can’t be brought up for a vote unless all six commissioners are present.”

If a commissioner is absent on the first vote though, Jones said, the commission could still vote on it.

“In the past though, out of consideration of all commissioners and in the spirit of cooperation, some important matters have been deferred until all six commissioners are there,” Jones said.

District 5 Commissioner Charlie Harris, who brought the resolution before the commission, stated that he wishes the commission to vote directly on the issue while District 6 commissioner Russell Johnson, who cast the dissenting vote, said he would not support anything other than a referendum on the issue.

In addition to not exclusively requesting a referendum, the resolution also differs from Troy’s request in that it does not specifically set a start time for Sunday sales.

The Troy City Council specifically outlined in their request to the legislature that the referendum would only allow Sunday alcohol sales after noon. The city could add parameters afterward through local ordinance – which they did for bars and lounges – but would not be able to authorize sales before noon without going back to the State legislature.

The county’s resolution merely requests the authority to “permit and regulate” pursuant to the resolution. Further regulations could be added by the commission, but would not be required if the local bill follows the commission’s request as worded.

Boothe said he expects to review the request within the coming weeks.