Liquor, wine might join beer on Sunday

TUPELO – City leaders could soon add liquor and wine to the list of alcoholic beverages available for sale on Sundays.
The City Council is set to vote tonight on a resolution to extend the hours of hard alcohol sales to match those of light alcohol sales, such as beer and wine coolers.
If it passes, the city attorney will send the request to the Mississippi State Tax Commission, which oversees liquor and wine sales. Municipalities oversee beer and light wine sales.
It typically takes two weeks for the commission’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to respond, said city attorney Guy Mitchell, who expects a favorable answer.
“Routinely, they approve it if that’s what the municipality wants,” said Mitchell, explaining that a recent ABC ruling against Starkville’s liquor request was due to a technicality. The ABC later approved it.
Tupelo’s hours and for such beverages had coincided with the state’s until October, when an amendment by the council to allow Sunday sales took effect. Beer and light wine is now available from 1-10 p.m. from grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants.
That decision had caused an outcry by residents and pastors who warned against the dangers of alcohol. Despite their pleas, the council voted 4-3 in favor of Sunday sales.
Two of the three councilmen who had voted against it spoke up Monday during a work session at City Hall.
“This is just another step,” lamented Ward 6 Councilman Mike Byran. “Shouldn’t do it. Shouldn’t have done it the first time.”
And Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings complained that the measure would invite intense public debate anew.
But other council members said it’s a logical step after having approved beer and wine coolers on Sunday.
“A lot of the women are upset because they can’t go to the restaurants and get wine,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis. “It’s just wine coolers” right now.
If the measure passes and the ABC approves, restaurants and other licensed restaurants, clubs and caterers will be able to sell wine and liquor. Package stores will not be authorized to sell it, however.
Unlike the previous vote, tonight’s decision was not announced in advance and no public hearing has been scheduled. As such, no one either for or against the measure is scheduled to speak at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal