By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – Beer drinkers who may have lamented over a penny per can tax increase that took effect Sept. 1 — presuming anyone noticed — may soon get a free swig of suds now that beer sampling is legal. The new law is one of several that took effect in North Carolina Thursday, some of which represent legislation closely followed by the Christian Action League.
“This law treats malt beverages essentially the way North Carolina treats wine, despite the fact that beer is much more often abused and the ‘drug of choice’ for underage drinkers,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Now we’ll have these tastings in supermarkets, shopping malls and other places frequented by youth. There is nothing good about this law. I think that wherever these beer tasting events are taking place in supermarkets and shopping malls, people should bitterly complain to management.”
With a malt beverage special permit, grocery stores and other venues can hand out free, 2-ounce samples of beer to their customers as long as they are at least 21. Tastings may include up to four malt beverages in one area and can last up to four hours.
On the other hand, some positive alcohol related legislation is also taking effect with a law to allow municipalities to have a role in deciding where new ABC stores will be located.
“We’re happy to see local governments get a little more say in the location of ABC stores,” said the Rev. Creech. “We urge municipalities to be thorough in their public hearings and consideration of these matters to keep the stores in locations where they would do the least harm.”
Approved in May, the law will allow a local government to object to the location of Alcoholic Beverage Control stores if the government body has held a public hearing, taken evidence and passed a resolution objecting to the store’s proposed location. Even so, the final say for the store’s location lies with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. But the commission will have to delay action while the municipality holds its hearing and will have to consider the town’s objections.
Another new law taking effect this week is one that chips away at North Carolina’s marriage laws. Introduced as “An Act to Clarify Procedures in Civil Actions for Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation,” the law actually makes it impossible for a married man or woman to file a civil action against a third party who interferes with the marriage unless that person’s actions took place while the couple was still living together. In other words, an affair that starts the day after a spouse leaves the house can no longer prompt an alienation of affection suit. It further limits these lawsuits to a three-year period after the last act of the defendant giving rise to the action. Prior to this law’s passage, anyone hoping to win the affections of a married person had to think twice before pursuing such a relationship while the person was still legally wed. Now, the minute a husband or wife walks out the door, long before the first separation paper is filed or a divorce is sought, he or she is fair game for new suitors.
“Unfortunately, this law removes another support from the institution of marriage. Plus, it puts husbands and wives at greater emotional risk during a time when they are most vulnerable,” said the Rev. Creech. “Some divorce attorneys argue that alienation of affection is an archaic concept that should be thrown out altogether, but after laws like this new one erode the legal principle, I’m afraid then we’ll find out just how many affairs were prevented and marriages saved because someone held off their romantic pursuit out of fear of being sued.”