Officials surprised by wording in Piedmont Sunday sales bill; proposal gives state lawmakers, not council, final vote
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Feb 03, 2014 | 4440 views |  0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A customer's hand reaches in the cooler for a cold beer at the Country Corner store in Piedmont. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
A customer's hand reaches in the cooler for a cold beer at the Country Corner store in Piedmont. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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At the request of Piedmont’s City Council, the Legislature may soon consider a bill permitting Sunday alcohol sales in the city, though local officials say they’re surprised at the bill’s wording.

Sen. Del Marsh introduced the bill last week. It’s worded to make legal the sale of alcohol in Piedmont on Sundays as soon as it becomes law. But Marsh and Piedmont Mayor Bill Baker said they thought Piedmont’s bill left the ultimate decision-making authority up to the council. That was the case last year with bills passed on behalf of Anniston and Weaver.

Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis said state lawmakers typically prefer such wording.

“It makes it considerably easier for them to pass because they’re not making the decision at Montgomery’s level,” he said. “No one knows what a community wants better than the people that live in that community.”

Piedmont’s city attorney, Ron Allen, helped draft the legislation, and he said city officials knew about the bill’s wording.

“They wanted it,” he said. “There wasn’t any reason in their mind to revisit it.”

Piedmont’s bill also takes away the council’s authority to repeal Sunday sales later on.

Marsh said the difference between Piedmont’s bill and the other local cities' Sunday alcohol bills won’t change his opinion on the matter. Baker said the difference shouldn’t determine whether or not the lawmakers support the measure.

“To me, as a politician, you have to make the tough decisions,” Baker said.

Piedmont’s council passed the resolution concerning Sunday alcohol sales in December. Baker said city officials requested the legislation on behalf of local business owner Ronnie Norton, who sells alcohol at his stores.

Unlike the legislation for Weaver and Anniston, Baker said Piedmont’s bill would authorize Sunday sales throughout the city’s police jurisdiction — which extends about 1.5 miles from the city limits. He said that change is because at least one of Norton’s stores is in the police jurisdiction.

“We decided to work with him,” Baker said.

The bill must receive a signature from Sen. Jerry Fielding before it moves forward through the process to a vote.

Fielding said he could sign off on the Piedmont bill as early as today, when the Legislature reconvenes. He said he typically supports local legislation that is supported by local lawmakers and residents.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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