The council voted 6-1 Tuesday in favor of a resolution that asks the Alabama Legislature to support a law allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Piedmont. Councilwoman Brenda Spears cast the only vote against the measure.
Ronnie Norton says he has been asking the city for six months to consider moving toward Sunday sales. Norton, who owns two Piedmont businesses that sell alcohol, said he thinks the change will help his bottom line.
“It’s a matter of survival,” he said. “I think it would help a lot.”
Alcohol has historically been a controversial topic in Alabama, but there has been little public discussion about the Piedmont council’s decision.
“Times change; things change. Maybe people’s thinking changes,” Mayor Bill Baker said Thursday.
Though the mayor does not vote with the council, he said that he favors supporting any resident who comes forward with requests that do not violate the law.
“I think this is an open-minded council,” Baker said, noting that elected leaders often support issues in an official capacity that they disagree with personally. “You have to separate those things.”
Baker said city attorney Ron Allen and City Clerk Michelle Franklin have been working to draft the resolution for about two months, something he and council members were aware of.
“There really hasn't been any discussion,” Baker said.
Asked for a copy of the draft bill Thursday, Franklin said she did not have one available.
Norton, who has attended several meetings in hopes the council would bring the matter up, was surprised Tuesday when the Sunday sales measure passed.
The Legislature this spring approved measures allowing city councils in Anniston and Weaver to permit Sunday alcohol sales. Both councils have since allowed such sales.
Baker said he and the council assume their request will proceed through the Legislature just as the Weaver and Anniston bills did.
The measure for Piedmont must be approved by both houses of the Legislature and be signed by the governor before it becomes law. In practice, the measure must get the support of the county’s local delegation in the Legislature, as well. If it gets local support, the full chambers are likely to approve it as well, lawmakers said Thursday.
Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, the Senate’s president pro tempore, supported the bills for Weaver and Anniston. Marsh said he hasn’t seen Piedmont’s bill, but will support it if it is similar to the Anniston and Weaver bills.
“I’ve got no problem moving it in the Senate for them,” Marsh said.
Attempts to reach Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, Thursday were not successful.
Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, said he also would support the bill if it is similar to the Weaver and Anniston bills. The key component of those bills that Brown likes, he said, is a provision that allows the city councils to determine whether they want Sunday sales after the legislation is passed.
“I think it will depend a lot on the way it was written up,” Brown said.
Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, did not support the Sunday sales bills earlier this year. He said he would also oppose legislation to permit Sunday sales in Piedmont.
“I’ll be voting no on it because I just can’t support it,” Wood said.
Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, declined to say whether she would support Sunday sales in Piedmont, adding that she has not seen the legislation for it.
“This is the wrong time to have that kind of bill because it’s an election year,” Boyd said. “We try to avoid controversial legislation at all times but more so we try to avoid it during an election year.”
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.