By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
May 8, 2013
RALEIGH — Drinkers at stadiums across the state won’t even have to walk to the concession stand to buy their next beer if an In-Stand Beer Sales bill passes the Senate as it has the House. The lower chamber voted 73-45 Tuesday to approve the measure which would allow in-stand sales in venues with at least 3,000 seats during professional sports events, even after some lawmakers wisely argued that it would result in more driving while impaired.
“We are spending a good portion of time this session toughening DWI laws, increasing penalties and decreasing BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels and talking about Ignition Interlocks, and then we have a bill that seeks to greatly expand the number of people likely to drink and drive,” lamented Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), who told fellow lawmakers that he was “not a prude” and enjoyed both beer and wine. “But as a matter of public policy, I can’t see voting as I have done to toughen DWI laws, to fight alcohol abuse and then to create a bill that is, I understand, there for the vendors and venues but will inevitably lead to more drinking and driving.”
Rep. Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell) said North Carolina’s ABC system, which stands for Alcoholic Beverage Control, is quickly becoming more about “Alcoholic Beverage Convenience.”
“I don’t know that we necessarily want to adopt a statewide policy where we just make it convenient for you to drink,” he said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to ask people, if they choose to drink alcoholic beverages at a sporting event, to get up from their seat and to walk to the window and purchase their alcohol.”
It’s that walk to the concession stand that Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) said could reveal whether a person should be able to purchase another drink or not.
“Requiring people to walk to the beer stand is one more step we take to make sure they have not drunk too much that day,” he said. “It gives the people selling the alcohol the chance to observe them and make sure it is not time to cut them off.”
Proponents of the bill argued that it would require vendors to make sure their sellers are properly trained to serve alcohol, and that it would also allow the ABC Commission to establish rules as to when beer sells would end or what size servings could be offered.
But Rep. Burt Jones (R-Caswell) pointed out that making alcohol more accessible would ensure that more people would be leaving sports events with more of it in their systems.
“That’s the bottom line on this bill and why we were disappointed to see it pass. We’re glad of the provisions that would require ABC to set up time limits and other rules, but studies show time and again that increasing availability always leads to increased consumption,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Simply put, that means more drinking at venues from which we know people will be driving away in a matter of a couple of hours. We hope the Senate sees the heightened danger here and will put the brakes on this measure.”
Monday’s debate and Tuesday’s final vote on the bill crossed party lines.
In other alcohol related news, the House also passed the so-called “Growler” bill, allowing for the use of refillable 64-ounce beer containers by permitted alcohol sellers across the state. Already the growlers were in use at breweries. The measure, which passed 87 to 27, would allow restaurants, wine shops, grocery stores or other locations that sell beer to set up growler taps. House Bill 829 will now go to the Senate.
See how your lawmaker voted by clicking here