Bill could extend wet/dry provision

Published 10:00 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three municipalities in Chilton County may get the chance to decide whether they want to legalize alcohol sales if a certain bill can make it through the state legislature.

The bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Martin, would allow municipalities with a population of 500 or more to have the same access as counties and cities with a population of at least 7,000 currently have.

The procedure allows for a referendum to be called after a petition with signatures from at least 25 percent of the registered voters who participated in the last election is turned in to the probate office.

Martin said this bill just allows those municipalities with a population from 500 to 7,000 to have the chance to call for the election.

“This bill is not a wet/dry bill. It is a bill that allows these cities to have access to call for a vote on the alcohol issue,” Martin said. “These municipalities still have to go through the same process as counties and cities with more than 7,000 residents.”

Currently, the only area of Chilton County where alcohol sales are legal is inside the city limits of Clanton. The rest of Chilton County could have a referendum to go wet if a petition was submitted to the probate judge with the proper number of signatures.

Now, that opportunity could be opened up to Jemison, Thorsby and Maplesville if the bill passes.

Martin said he believes the bill will pass in the House of Representatives, and there is support for the bill in the Senate even though Martin doesn’t know which senator would co-sign on the bill. The main question mark could be how successful the Senate is in passing bill.

A similar bill was passed in the House last year, but failed to pass in the Senate.

The last two terms have been riddled with logjams because there was trouble in passing the early bills. Two years ago, an unsuccessful session ended with a senator punching another. Last year, the Senate failed to reconcile their differences to pass the budget.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate this time,” Martin said. “All I know is that the House works well together, and we will get bills passed.”