Senate passes Weaver Sunday alcohol sales, annexation bills
by Tim Lockette
tlockette@annistonstar.com
May 02, 2013 | 10422 views |  0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thirty-four draft beers are on tap at Heroes Grille near Weaver. With the passage of a recent bill Heroes and another business could be annexed into Weaver allowing them to sell alcohol on Sundays.  (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Thirty-four draft beers are on tap at Heroes Grille near Weaver. With the passage of a recent bill Heroes and another business could be annexed into Weaver allowing them to sell alcohol on Sundays. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate voted 20-1 Thursday to pass a bill that would allow the Weaver City Council to approve Sunday alcohol sales within city limits.

Senators also voted 21-1 to pass a companion bill that would annex roughly four acres of land into the city.

City leaders had sought both bills in order to bring two businesses, Smokin’ Joe’s Tobacco and Beverage and Heroes American Grille, into the city. Mayor Wayne Willis said both businesses agreed to the annexation as long as it came with the ability to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Both bills were introduced in the Senate weeks ago, but went nowhere while senators hashed out conflicts over the legislative schedule and other matters.

Willis said passage of the bill was "outstanding" news.

"That's the first mile of the marathon," he said. "We've got to get it through the House."

House passage of the bill could take some time — more than is left in the legislative session.

A similar Sunday-sales bill for Anniston passed the Senate handily in February, but spent weeks stuck in the House due to opposition from local lawmakers.

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, said he opposed the Anniston bill because it would expand drinking on Sundays; Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, said he didn’t think Anniston should build its economy on alcohol sales.

Both men expressed similar opposition to the Weaver bill. Wood said days ago that he is opposed to Sunday sales in Weaver. Hurst said Thursday that he couldn’t support the Weaver bill if it’s similar to the Anniston bill.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but if it’s worded like Anniston’s, I’m opposed to it,” Hurst said.

In past legislative sessions, the opposition of a single local lawmaker was enough to kill most local bills. Committees on local legislation ask all lawmakers from a county affected by a bill to sign it out of committee. Yet with the Anniston bill, lawmakers overrode the opposition by Hurst and Wood to send the bill on to a vote in the full House, where it passed. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the Anniston bill into law Tuesday.

It’s not clear whether there’s time to shepherd the Weaver bill through the House process. There are three days left in the legislative session, and the bill still has to get committee approval in the House.

Rep. Barbara Boyd, R-Anniston, said that if no other lawmaker took it up — and if the Weaver City Council supported it — she would sponsor the Weaver bill in the House.

“If it’s what Weaver wants, I don’t have a problem with it,” she said.

It's clearly what Marc Spaulding, owner of Heroes American Grille, wants.

"The biggest step was today, but there's still a long way to go," said Spaulding, whose brewpub is one of the establishments seeking annexation. He said he'd been encouraging customers to email legislators in favor of the bill.

"I'm optimistic about it, but I'm cautious," he said.

Capitol & statewide correspondent Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

HOW THEY VOTED

SUNDAY SALES
  • Del Marsh, R-Anniston Yes

  • Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, Yes

  • Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga Yes

A yes vote would give the Weaver City Council the power to approve Sunday alcohol sales

ANNEXATION
  • Del Marsh, R-Anniston Yes

  • Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, Yes

  • Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga Yes

A yes vote would annex roughly 4 acres along Alabama 21 into the city of Weaver

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