Washington delays vote, Chocowinity OKs ‘brunch bill’ sales

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Municipalities in Beaufort County are taking a closer look at the “brunch bill.”

During its Aug. 14 meeting, Washington’s City Council likely will review information concerning the new state law that allows the sales of alcoholic beverages to begin at 10 a.m. Sundays instead of at noon.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the “brunch bill,” establishing the new law June 30. Several municipalities acted quickly to allow the earlier sales of alcoholic beverages on Sundays, especially in coastal cities and towns.

“There’s been a lot of questions about the ‘brunch bill’ — what it authorizes and the procedure in terms of the Sunday-brunch provision,” City Manager Bobby Roberson told the council during its meeting Monday. “The Institute of Government has published a six-page document (about the new law), and I did receive a copy of the bill that was actually passed by the General Assembly. What we’d like to do is bring forward a two-page executive summary.”

Councilman Doug Mercer questioned which establishments are included in the legislation, adding that referring to the new law as the “brunch bill” is misleading.

“That’s right. You have to read the entire bill,” Roberson said. “It’s all inclusive. It covers anything with alcoholic sales on Sunday mornings.”

Roberson said the state law does not put these sales into practice directly, but rather gives individual municipalities the power to vote and adopt a measure if they choose.

Although Washington’s City Council chose to delay any action regarding the “brunch bill,” Chocowinity Board of Commissioners approved a measure Tuesday to allow sales before noon on Sundays.

After a brief discussion at the Town’s regular meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to allow morning sales of alcoholic beverages.

“My anticipation is that all the Boards would want to do this, regardless of their personal views on the legislation, so that there would not be a patch work of Sunday morning access across the County,” Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood wrote in an email to local municipalities. “I know that each jurisdiction has a different meeting schedule, but it would be nice if we could all coordinate on this and decide on a single date of implementation for everyone to use so that different jurisdictions don’t come on line at different times.”

Roberson said Beaufort County officials and organizations like the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce are evaluating the new law and its possible effects in the area.

Washington Councilwoman Virginia Finnerty said the new law could help the city in its efforts to attract tourists to Washington.

“It’s a bill that promotes tourism because it’s directly related to out-of-state people coming in and not knowing we have blue laws,” she said. “It affects people who depend on tourism, and were trying to develop that. So, we have to keep that in mind.”

Mackenzie Tewksbury contributed reporting to this article.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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