By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
July 19, 2019
RALEIGH – Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he returned to work Tuesday, after suffering a health scare, and sat in the gallery of the state Senate to watch them pass “perhaps the most egregious piece of alcohol legislation that has ever crossed its floor.”
Creech was referring to SB 290 – ABC Regulatory Reform, a measure that is 20 pages in length with 29 provisions, some of which he said were appalling and a direct threat to public health and safety.
SB 290 was ABC reforms for distilleries, which passed both the Senate and the House. But after passing the House, lawmakers rolled the language of the gargantuan bill, HB 536 – ABC Omnibus Regulatory Reform, that passed the House last week, into SB 290. Creech said most concerns in the original SB 290 had been eliminated from the measure, but rolling the numerously bad provisions from HB 536 into SB 290 and making it one bill, created a parliamentary procedure that allowed those provisions to avoid any vetting by Senate Committees. Therefore, Senate members could not have been properly informed on its dangers because a simple concurrence vote passed it.
Creech also said that SB 290 would bring certain things to communities that he thinks will be shocking to many.
“There’s going to be liquor tasting events in local ABC stores, drinking in open areas of the mall, etc., unless the Governor vetoes the bill,” he said. “In the coming days and weeks, I hope to provide our supporters with an at length explanation of the bad provisions that remained in the bill. They need to know, and they aren’t going to get the whole truth from the lawmakers who voted for it.”
Some of the provisions that were amended out of HB 536 before the House passed it and rolled into SB 290 were:
• A provision allowing for the sale of beer and wine on the passenger-only ferry traveling from Hatteras to Ocracoke.
• A provision that would have allowed for a new statutory category of “Bars” for alcohol permittees, making it possible for every little town and hamlet across the state that passed a Mixed Drinks referendum to have bars on every corner.
• A provision that would have allowed distilleries to sell, deliver, and ship their products out of state directly to establishments and restaurants.
• A provision that would have allowed the sale of up to 4 alcoholic beverages at one sitting to a patron was amended to two drinks for beer and wine, but only one drink for mixed beverages.
• A provision that would have allowed ABC stores to open on Sundays from 12:00 – 5:00.
“I suppose I should be more pleased that we had as much success as we did in getting some of the bad stuff out,” said Creech. “But I’m broken-hearted that we didn’t succeed any more than we did. I’m broken-hearted that my health didn’t hold up and I lost several days in the fight. Perhaps if I hadn’t lost those days, we might have done better.”
Sports Betting and Horse Race Wagering Bill Passes
The day before, on Monday, lawmakers gave their final approval to legislation that allows for sports betting and horse race wagering at the gambling operations belonging to the Cherokee nation in Western North Carolina.
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, testified before Senate and House committees on SB 154-Allow Sports/Horse Race Wagering Tribal Lands and said:
“Sports gambling is particularly corruptive and addicting, and authorizing these additional forms of gambling on the Cherokee reservation will give current gamblers even more ways to gamble, and it will also attract new gamblers to the tribal casinos…Decades of gambling research clearly demonstrates the devastating effects gambling addiction has on individuals, families, and communities, including crime, theft, embezzlement, personal bankruptcy, domestic violence, child abuse, divorce, and even suicide.”
Both SB 290 and SB 154 have been sent to the Governor and await his signature.
“I cannot properly express my disappointment that it was Republican lawmakers who sponsored and championed these bills,” said Dr. Creech. “This year, we were inundated with not only these two pieces of legislation but other seriously flawed alcohol bills and measures that expand gambling. I don’t want to put all the Republicans in one camp, but most of them did this, and it’s an impediment for many conservative evangelicals that place their faith in them to stand for a society based on Christian values.”