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Sunday sales bill moves to House

A bill that would authorize the county commission to hold a vote on Sunday alcohol sales countywide is now in the Alabama House of representatives.

The bill would give the commission the ability to vote “at the table” or hold a referendum to allow Sunday alcohol sales after noon.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Pike, said the bill completed its four-week run of advertising in The Messenger Wednesday and will now go to a House committee.

“It will go before the local legislative committee sometime next week,” Boothe said. “It will get its second reading in committee and then come out to the floor and be voted on the day after that.”

Boothe said the bill would then be sent to Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Pike, to undergo the same process in the Senate.

“We should have it on the governor’s desk within two weeks,” Boothe said. “Once signed by the governor, it will go into effect … I am putting this bill through just as expeditiously as I possibly can.”

Harry Sanders, county administrator, said the bill could come back before the commission during the Feb. 26 meeting if Boothe’s timeline works out.

“It could potentially come up any time after it is enacted by the governor,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t have to be and I’m not sure whether the commissioners want to do that, but it could be.”

Even if the bill is signed after the initial commission agenda is set, Sanders said the bill could be added if the commissioners agree to allow it on.

As soon as the bill is placed on the agenda, the commission could vote on it.

“The only way they’d address it at that point is if they suspended the rules,” Sanders said. “I do think they’d want to go ahead and address it. I think they’ll do that fairly quickly … One concern is that the longer it goes unresolved, the more unfair it is to businesses outside the (City of Troy).”

Troy now allows Sunday alcohol sales after noon after citizens voted by a 3-1 margin in favor of the ordinance during a referendum on Oct. 10, 2017.

The county bill would allow the commissioners to vote on the ordinance among themselves or put it to a referendum for all county citizens.

Commissioners Russell Johnson, District 6, and Chad Copeland, District 4, have both said they favor a referendum. Commissioners Homer Wright, District 1; Jimmy Barron, District 3; and Charlie Harris District 5, all favor voting on it as a commission.

Chairman Robin Sullivan, District 2, said he has yet to make a decision.

If the commissioners do decide to hold a referendum, the bill comes with a few stipulations.

One of those rules is that the election must be open to all county residents, including those that live within the corporate limits of Troy. A previous version of the bill would have excluded Troy residents, which Boothe said would have been a “logistical nightmare” to handle.

The bill also stipulates that the election must coincide with a regularly scheduled election. The next regularly scheduled election is June 5 and the general election is scheduled for November 6.

The Pike County Commission will meet again upstairs at the Pike County Health Department on Monday, February 12. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. and the business meeting will follow at 6 p.m.