As statehouse bills go, this one is amazingly simple.
Whether or not Sunday sales of alcohol in Anniston are allowed is the sole responsibility of the Anniston City Council, according to the bill, which was sponsored by Del Marsh, R-Anniston, in the Senate and Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, in the House.
Anniston’s mayor and four council members are elected by voters in, you guessed it, Anniston, Ala. If Sunday sales are right for Anniston, then this is a decision best left to those city politicians. If they are out of step with public opinion, then it is those politicians who will face the consequences from the voters.
Not that it appears the notion of Sunday sales is out of bounds with most Anniston residents. By unanimous vote earlier this year, the council requested that the Legislature allow them to have the power to regulate Sunday sales. The vote is not controversial, particularly because many Alabama cities Anniston’s size already allow Sunday alcohol sales.
This bill is a bedrock principle of limited local control: Duly elected local officials deserve a significant say on matters solely related to their constituents. “Local decisions made by local people” is a rallying cry of conservatives in Alabama and across the country.
Yet, the measure that passed the state Senate 25-2 in February is not expected to make it out of the House of Representatives. Two self-proclaimed conservatives — Reps. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, and Randy Wood, R-Saks — say they won’t support the bill. They are part of Calhoun County’s legislative delegation, a fact that carries tremendous symbolic weight among legislators; even one objection from a member of a local delegation can kill local bills. The result: The prospects for a Sunday sales bill for Anniston appear bleak.
We’ve also learned Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, is now in the no column out of deference to the objections of his colleagues.
Brown, Hurst and Wood aren’t members of the Anniston City Council. They don’t live within Anniston’s city limits. Yet, in Montgomery’s bizarro world, their dissent is stronger than the five yes votes on the Anniston City Council. None of these lawmakers should let their personal whims halt progress in Anniston. We beg them to step aside and allow the bill a chance to pass.