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Sunday alcohol sales find North Augusta opposition

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Mary Dykes, a North Augusta resident for 50 years, says before policy makers make it easier for the community to purchase alcohol, they should consider its impact on young people.

She’s concerned about legislation moving forward in the South Carolina Legislature at the request of city leaders, that would bump forward a possible referendum to legalize the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

“If you want to drink, that’s up to you if you want to kill your brain and your liver,” said Dykes, who was raised a Baptist and said she still believes the fundamental teachings.

“But I don’t want anybody saying everybody in North Augusta thinks it’s OK to run this through.”

The bill, H. 5098, was introduced by Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta, at the request of business leaders and city officials who said the 22,000-person community has been passed over by new businesses because of its alcohol-sales restriction. They point to neighboring Aiken and Augusta, both of which allow Sunday sales, and say voters should be allowed to decide whether to put North Augusta on a level playing field for attracting investment.

But for some, the effort is part of a troubling trend.

“Data on per capita consumption and DUI deaths show clearly that South Carolina can’t hold its liquor, or beer or wine,” said Oran Smith, president and CEO of Palmetto Family, a Columbia-based non-profit that promotes traditional, conservative social values.

“Combined with a flurry of legislative loosening of alcohol laws in the last few years, we have a perfect storm,” added Smith. “Bills like this make it easier to increase the flow of alcohol, and that isn’t smart or safe right now.”

The bill, which has drawn co-sponsorships from the Aiken County delegation and others, would allow a ballot question on the issue to appear as early as the November presidential election. Under current law, the earliest referendum would be next April. Hixon and other supporters argue the legislation makes sense for taxpayers, who might otherwise have to pay extra to hold a special election.

The lawmaker, noting that he is a Baptist, said Friday that some mistakenly believe his bill makes possible a referendum vote, when in fact, that’s already permitted. His bill allows the election to coincide with the November election, so that turnout is likely to be triple what it would be otherwise.

Meanwhile, others feel anxious for different reasons.

North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said City Council has not decided whether a referendum would be for restaurants only or for an option that also includes beer and wine “over-the-counter” sales.

If stores are included, businessman Adam Howard said his expenses would rise, but his profits would not.

“I would have to open my store, pay my electric bill, run my beer cooler, pay employees,” said Howard, manager of North Augusta Wine & Beverage. “Just because you can buy it on an extra day, I don’t think people will consume more.”

Hixon acknowledged that City Council has the flexibility to put forward a ballot question to allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday, but he said that was never his intention and nor part of his discussions with city leaders.

The community probably wouldn’t vote for that anyway, he added.

“This is 100 percent, in my opinion, dealing with restaurants,” said Hixon on Friday. “I’m not for opening liquor stores up. We live on a border state. If you want you that, you can go to Augusta. I don’t want that in North Augusta.”

The bill, which easily passed the House, cleared a Senate subcommittee earlier this month.

Comments (12) Add comment
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Cdr4500
20
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Cdr4500 05/13/12 - 05:36 pm
0
0
Oh good lord! Would the
Unpublished

Oh good lord! Would the random leftovers from the Temperance movement please just give it up already?!

Abbynoll
282
Points
Abbynoll 05/13/12 - 07:04 pm
6
2
Again?

Seriously... do these people NOT realize how ridiculous they sound? It's OK to go into a restaurant and order liquor but not buy it at the store? (Apparently you can't get drunk in a restaurant?) It's Ok to drive across the line and buy it in another town, but not precious N. Augusta? And my personal favorite, "I would have to open my store, pay my electric bill, run my beer cooler, pay employees,” said Howard, manager of North Augusta Wine & Beverage." Really? Really? I do believe we have a winner for the dumbest comment made today. If it's YOUR store... you don't HAVE to open on Sunday! Look at Chic-Fil-A... their business isn't hurting because they chose not to open on Sunday.

I am absolutely sick to death of being told by religious zealots what I should and shouldn't do. That's between me and God. That being said, I fully intend to mix, at minimum, a couple of Crown and Sprites when I get off work. I will toast to your ignorance.

RoadkiII
6787
Points
RoadkiII 05/14/12 - 05:25 am
6
1
What Abby said.

I may be blind, but I didn't see any where that the bill would REQUIRE you to open and sell on Sundays. If you would loose money on Sunday, keep the door locked. Simple enough for this stupid redneck to figure out.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 05/14/12 - 05:53 am
5
0
wan, rk, and I have the same

wan, rk, and I have the same opinion. Is there a requirement that you open on Sunday? Is there a requirement that you open on any other day of the week. If I owned that type of establishment, if passed, I would give it a try. If it brought in more revenue, great. If not, stop opening. Not exactly rocket science. As to the naysayers about alcohol. If you don't want to drink it, don't buy it, but don't use your religious beliefs to deny others the choice. Again, a very simple solution.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 05/14/12 - 05:56 am
7
0
Let's have a fried chicken

Let's have a fried chicken ban on Sunday. If people want it, they can buy it on the other six days of the week. Sounds sort of stupid when you substitute another word for alcohol doesn't it?

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 05/14/12 - 06:04 am
1
0
Is there not a delete option?

Is there not a delete option? Meant to post in R & R.

agustinian
721
Points
agustinian 05/14/12 - 06:37 am
6
1
Meat on Fridays; Ham on Saturday; Coke on Monday

Why stop with banning alcohol on Sunday? There should be no meat sales on Friday (Catholic concession); no Ham on Saturday (Jewish concession); no Coke on Monday (Mormon concession).

WWJD if He showed up and tried to pull the ol' Water to Wine schtick on a Sunday no less. I guess we all would tell Him, "Ah, Jees, you all can't do that here, but get on your donkey and head across the 13th Street bridge - Augusta allows that disgusting trick, even on a Sunday."

shrimp for breakfast
5476
Points
shrimp for breakfast 05/14/12 - 09:03 am
5
1
Techfan always makes me laugh!

Techfan you always make me laugh. Banning fried chicken on Sunday. Now that is funny!!!
Too bad I don't drink or I could take advantage of a Sunday drinking beer and watching football.
It is nice to see Augusta striking down some of the ridiculous " Blue Laws" and entering the 21st century.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 05/14/12 - 09:08 am
1
0
Seperation of what?
Unpublished

Just another archaic law that proves there is only seperation of church and state when it's convenient for those in power. Just like sunday's blue laws this is a loss of tax revenue for the citizens of NA. Stupidity at it's best is what the government regularly shows.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 05/14/12 - 09:12 am
4
1
Shrimp, where ya been?

Shrimp, where ya been? Actually, it is SC who needs to get into this century; their Sunday closure laws lasted longer than Ga's.

What is it with these people who don't even want to have a referendum to allow THE PEOPLE to decide?

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 05/14/12 - 09:32 am
5
1
I find it much easier to

I find it much easier to observe The Sabbath Day when I mix some good martinis and veg out in a chair. I wouldn't want to get stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

nanowerx
1334
Points
nanowerx 05/14/12 - 09:50 am
4
1
A government for the people,

A government for the people, by the people...well, unless someones religious views want to dictate how you live, then forget letting the people vote on it. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!

Please, government officials, stop saying that people are more inclined to drink and drive if they buy alcohol at a store and bring it home than being forced to drink at a restaurant and then drive home. That argument is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. Obviously, the overwhelming victories for Sunday sales throughout Georgia shows that the people are sick of being oppressed because of religious ideals on how our Sundays should be spent.

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