Draft beer goes to Legislature

Ngoc Vo
Staff Writer

The proposal to legalize draft beer sales will come to the Alabama Legislature after this Saturday, March 8, which is the end of the mandatory four-week advertisement, according to Rep. Alan Boothe, who sponsored the bill.
“Once (the bill) comes to the Legislature and passes,” Boothe said, “it will be sent to the governor for his signature. After that it’s up to the City Council to enact it and adopt the ordinance.”
The passage of the proposal would allow the sale of draft and keg beer in the towns, cities and unincorporated areas of Pike County.
Jamie and Lyndsay Taylor, the owners of wine bar Sips on the Square in Troy, started the movement with the backing of Pike County commissioners.  The proposal is now sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe and Sen. Bryan Taylor.
Lyndsay Taylor said they had done research on the issue for months, but started the legal process only three weeks ago.
Before they went to the City Council to seek its approval, they made contact with local businesses, Taylor said. They had collected signatures of more than 300 community members and college students who dined in the store.
“We wanted to make sure others were on the same page as us,” Taylor said. “And everyone was very receptive to what we are doing.
It’s easier to pursue the process knowing that we have the community’s support.” Taylor said she talked to John Witherington, who represents Council District 4 and serves as president of the City Council. Witherington set up an appointment for her to attend a council meeting, where they had an open discussion on the subject.
“Our city councilmen were open to talk to constituents about what we want,” Taylor said. “We have a progressive City Council and a progressive mayor.”
Taylor was optimistic about the bill, saying it will benefit the city as a whole.
“Everyone will see what the big deal is once the bill has passed,” Taylor said. “It will not only impact our own profitability but also helps to keep some of our locals in town, to keep tax dollars here. People don’t have to go out of Troy to enjoy draft beer anymore.”
Draft beer is legal in many cities in Alabama, including Prattville, Athens, Scottsboro and Montgomery.
“Not only will (draft beer) contribute to the flourishing nightlife in Troy,” said Kimbrlei McCain, a clinical mental health graduate student from Chelsea. “It will also increase revenues within our community. Changes like this really allow the university and the surrounding community to come together and benefit from each other, especially because beer is now being sold at some university sporting events.”
According to Taylor, the proposal also opens the door for other kinds of business and creates opportunities for greater variety.
“I don’t see any downside about it at this this point,” Taylor said. “What I would have to think about is the initial investment to install the system to sell draft beer. But it is not a long-term problem.”
Taylor said one concern voiced by the City Council is the underage consumption and overdrinking if draft beer is legalized. She stressed that her proposal is only applicable for sale on premises.
Boothe also confirms the sales of draft beer under discussion is “on premises only, not off premises.”
“We understand the reservation,” Taylor said. “But it’s the business owners’ responsibility to police and manage their draft beer sale properly.”
Boothe said he has not noticed anyone opposed to the bill.
“Nobody has called me to complain about this,” Boothe said. “The establishments to sell draft beer are the ones who will be licensed to do so. They haven’t mentioned any problem, so I don’t think there is any negative side of (the legalization of draft beer sales).”
According to Taylor, it would be a quick process for draft beer to be on sale in Troy. She said the bill can be decided on as early as three or four weeks.

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