Though it’s not yet the hour to raise a glass and offer a toast, the policy is one step closer to getting uncorked. Tuesday, an Alabama House of Representatives committee approved the proposal unanimously. All that’s left is for the full House to pass a bill that’s already been cleared by the state Senate.
It’s obvious that Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, deserves the majority of credit for keeping this measure alive, though Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, clearly provided assistance.
Why this has required extraordinary effort by Marsh is a lesson on the inefficiencies and roadblocks in Alabama’s system of government.
The notion of allowing the city of Anniston to control when retailers can sell alcohol began at City Hall. If anything, Anniston was a late-comer to this policy change; many similarly sized Alabama cities already allow Sunday sales. Regardless, early this year the Anniston City Council unanimously passed a resolution favoring seven-day-a-week alcohol sales and asking the Legislature for permission to implement such a policy.
Let’s pause for a moment to consider this request. The city of Anniston (like other cities in the state) must go to the Legislature hat in hand to ask for permission to create policies that apply only within the city limits. It’s an uncontroversial policy already in place in countless Alabama cities. There’s no reason why the state of Alabama should get involved.
Yet, it does, making the Legislature the world’s largest council, presiding over local-only policies with immense veto power.
Members of the local legislative delegation can bottle up local-only proposals that have already been approved by city councils and county commissions. That was the case with Sunday sales, as two state representatives — Steve Hurst, R-Munford, and Randy Wood, R-Saks — objected to the proposal. Earlier, Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, opposed the bill, but says he has since been persuaded to support it.
By tradition, local legislation dies without unanimous support, and for a time it appeared Anniston’s Sunday sales bill was going to suffer a cruel death. That changed Tuesday as the proposal emerged from the Local Legislation Committee.
Statehouse sources tell us the measure could come up for a vote in the House today. We urge lawmakers to bend to the wishes of Anniston’s mayor and council members, and pass this bill.