State House reverses municipal liquor bill vote

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – The state House reversed itself late Wednesday and passed a proposal that would allow municipalities in dry counties to sell alcohol by the glass if voters within municipal boundaries approve.
The proposal was defeated Tuesday by a 60-59 margin. But on Wednesday, Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, prevailed on a motion to reconsider and got another vote. This time it passed, 65-54.
Before the vote, he amended the bill to stipulate that the municipality had to have a population of at least 5,000 residents to be able to sell alcohol by the glass in restaurants.
Under current state law, when votes are held to legalize liquor, it must be a countywide referendum. Liquor, though, can only be sold within municipal boundaries. The legislation first defeated and then passed Wednesday would allow a vote solely within the boundaries of a municipality if 20 percent of the residents signed a petition asking for it.
The legislation, if it eventually becomes law, could affect Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in Northeast Mississippi.
Last year the Corinth Board of Aldermen passed a resolution asking the Legislature to grant Corinth resort status to allow the sale of alcohol by the glass in restaurants if approved by voters. But legislators who represent Corinth have not filed bills to grant that status.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com