The somewhat controversial N.C. Senate Bill 155, also known as the “Brunch Bill,” was passed by the state Senate last Thursday, with a vote of 32-13.
The bill would allow cities and counties to decide whether to allow local restaurants, bars and hotels to serve alcohol as early as 10 a.m. Sundays. Alcoholic Beverage Control stores would remain closed on Sundays.
"This is a pure local option," sponsor Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, told the Senate Rules Committee. "We will join 47 other states in allowing some form of alcohol sales before noon."
The bill, supported by the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, also includes provisions to allow distilleries to sell their products to those touring their facilities and permit liquor tastings at off-site events.
The organization released this statement regarding the bill:
“This brunch bill will allow our North Carolina restaurants and hotels to meet their guest’s needs. With 55 million visitors to our state every year, this bill will be good for tourism and hospitality.”
The legislation is also supported by Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, a sponsor of the bill.
“This legislation allows our N.C. distilleries and strong hospitality and tourism industry in N.C. to grow while continuing to balance the ABC Commission’s role in the sale of alcohol,” Lee said.
He declined to comment on the timeline for potential passage of the bill by the N.C. House, as well as what the response has been from his New Hanover County constituents.
Mary Long, owner of The Basics, a popular brunch destination located in downtown’s Cotton Exchange, is also in favor of the bill.
“It seems like a win-win situation for both business owners and the state as it will result in increased revenue for both,” Long said. “It’s difficult to see where the controversy lies.”
Critics have said they fear the measure might lead to an increase in drunk driving.
The bill would have to be passed by the state House and signed into law before it would be up for consideration at the local level.
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