Instituting Sunday alcohol sales no longer takes a vote of the people or legislative action.
In May, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law that amended the state’s laws on alcohol sales. As of Aug. 1, Alabama cities and counties that are already “wet” can, by ordinance or referendum, legalize Sunday sales of alcohol, according to Boaz City Attorney Greg Price. He said this means a vote of the people is no longer required.
“The amendment essentially allows county commissions and city councils that are already ‘wet’ to pass an ordinance allowing Sunday sales without the necessity of a referendum or legislative act,” Price said.
The bill was pushed and supported by the Alabama Retailers Association, Price said.
With the amendment, this means communities like the City of Boaz, which is “wet,” could adopt an ordinance to allow Sunday alcohol sales, something citizens have voted down multiple times.
A special referendum was first held in October of 2015. Voters elected “no” for Sunday alcohol sales in a 421-251 split.
Nearly three years later, in August of 2018, another special election was held, but it failed again — this time by 13 votes. The final vote tally was 355 “no” votes and 342 “yes” votes. According to U.S. Census Data, Boaz had 3,904 registered voters at the time, meaning only 17.8% of voters turned out for the election.
Though Sunday alcohol sales could bring positive impact on the city’s economic development opportunities, Price believed the Boaz City Council does not intend to adopt an ordinance to permit Sunday alcohol sales.
“I have discussed it, generally, with individual council members and the mayor,” Price said. “At this time, I don’t think there is an overwhelming desire to pass an ordinance allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Boaz. That could change depending on the types of retailers and businesses, which are or may be wanting to locate in Boaz.”
While Boaz does not allow Sunday alcohol sales, Price said “technically” it does.
“Technically, most cities and counties already have Sunday alcohol sales,” Price said. “State law (ABC regulations) and most cities and counties already authorize alcohol sales up until 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings.”
Prior to the 2019 amendment, the only way to have Sunday alcohol sales was to have the legislature pass a local law enacting Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 12 p.m. or to have a referendum, Price said.
“This new 2019 amendment to the Sunday alcohol sales laws coincide with an new law passed in 2017 that allows those same cities and counties to start selling alcohol on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.,” Price said. “This new law is called the ‘brunch bill’ and was passed without much fanfare coming out of the 2017 legislative session.”
Prior to the “brunch bill” being passed, Price said most “wet” cities and counties were not allowed to pass ordinances allowing alcohol sales before 12 p.m. on Sundays. The “brunch bill” only allowed “wet” cities and counties to initiate earlier Sunday sales by referendum or legislative act.
“In essence, the 2019 amendment changes the referendum mandate to allow ‘wet’ cities and counties to pass ordinances allowing Sunday sales starting at 10 a.m.,” Price said. “Otherwise, the issue would have to be voted on by referendum or done by local legislative act.”
Cities of Albertville and Guntersville each passed seven-day sales referendums in 2015.