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County Sunday sales bill may exclude Troy residents from vote

If the Pike County Commission chooses to hold a referendum to decide on Sunday alcohol sales, Troy residents won’t have the chance to head to the polls based on the language in the current draft.

The commission unanimously approved the language of a local bill that would give them the authority to hold a commission vote or a referendum to decide the outcome of the issue.

Included in the bill, which was drafted by Legislative Reference Services, is language that exempts residents within the corporate limits of the City of Troy from voting in a referendum if it’s called.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Pike, said that he and Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Pike, are working on drafting the bill to put before the commission for final approval before it is advertised in The Messenger and presented to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Boothe said the exemption of Troy residents could make a referendum more complicated.

“That is something that, if that’s what they want, that’s the way we’ll draw the bill up: just for people in the county to vote,” Boothe said. “I think you run into some questions once you do that though because it’s a very fine line. It’s complicating things a lot, I think, because of voting lines and voting districts… That would delay the bill further. I just think it’d be a logistical nightmare.”

Probate Judge Wes Allen explained why excluding Troy residents would make things more complicated for poll workers.

“If the referendum was held with the general election, there would have to be two ballot styles for precincts with voters that live inside and outside the Troy corporate limits,” Allen said. “For example, First Baptist Church has voters that live inside the corporate limits and others that live outside the city limits.”

Allen said poll workers would need a voter list that had ballot styles listed next to each name to know which type of ballot each voter needs. Voters living in Troy would get a ballot without the referendum on it and voters outside of Troy would get a ballot with the question included. If the referendum was added to the June primaries, Allen said there would have to be a total of four different ballot styles – two for each party.

“Machines will have to be able to read both those ballot styles,” Allen said. “There would also have to be an education process for the poll workers to ensure they’re handing out the correct ballot style.”

County attorney Allen Jones said the intent of the commission’s original vote was to only allow county residents outside of Troy to have a vote.

“The citizens in Troy have already voted on it once, so it would be like they were getting a second vote on it,” Jones said.

Boothe said there will likely be some changes to the language of the local bill before the lawmakers put it back in front of the commission for final approval.

“It will mirror the one done by the City of Troy,” Boothe said. “The 12 (noon) opening is something that I think needs to be in the bill.”

The City of Troy bill limited the council’s authority to holding a referendum and included language that would not allow Sunday alcohol sales before noon. Troy citizens passed the referendum by a 3-1 margin on October 10, 2016.

Boothe said that it the bill will still allow the commission to decide whether to vote on the issue as a commission or hold the referendum.

“This will give them the authority to either vote it in or put it before the people for a vote,” Boothe said. “But if a referendum failed, they couldn’t then pass it by commission.”

Boothe said once the bill is advertised and ready to be presented to the legislature, he doesn’t see an problems getting the bill through.

“Depending on where we are at that point, I don’t anticipate any problem except time if we adjourn and go home,” Boothe said. “then we’d have to take it up at the next session.”

The next meeting of the Pike County Commission is scheduled for Monday, January 22. The commission meets upstairs at the Pike County Health Department. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. and will include a public hearing on the vacation of County Road 7717 to Lockheed Martin. The business meeting will follow at 6 p.m.