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One News Now

Will State Lawmakers Respect Your Right to Vote?

VoteUrgent Christian Action Alert: Alcohol measure to be considered on Monday by the NC House – 2009 Viticulture/Enology Act grants alcohol permits regardless of a referendum
Christian Action League

HB 667 – 2009 Viticulture/Enology Act, sponsored by Rep. Melanie Goodwin (D-Richmond) and Rep. Pryor Gibson (D-Union), essentially allows colleges or universities with a Viticulture/Enology course to sell unfortified wine at a non-campus location. It would allow wineries with off premise permits to sell unfortified wine at their premises and at an additional location in their county during hours when the winery is open to the public, which would include Sunday sales in certain cases. But these provisions in the legislation are relatively innocuous in comparison to a provision that was added to the measure when it passed the Senate.

The egregious provision that passed the Senate would expand the definition of a Sports Club to include Equestrian Centers. An Equestrian Center that would qualify under this legislation is an establishment that provides boarding for horses, training, and coaching, and that also offers on-site dining, lodging, and meeting facilities and hosts horse trials and other events sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.

Race HorseWhat’s so egregious about the expansion of the Sports Club definition in Alcoholic Beverage Control law being amended to include Equestrian Centers?

For decades, local option alcohol referendums have been the means that communities across North Carolina have had control over alcohol sales. By the ballot box, towns, cities, certain rural areas and counties determine whether they want alcohol outlets and what form alcohol will be sold (ABC Store, Beer, Wine, Mixed Beverages, or all of these). But in recent years, the alcohol industry and other business interests have convinced lawmakers to undermine the people’s right to vote on alcohol sales to grant special permits without regard for the results of an alcohol referendum.

Here is a list of special provisions that are currently in North Carolina law:

  • Historic ABC Establishment
  • Special ABC Area
  • Tourism ABC Establishment
  • Tourism Resort
  • Recreation District
  • Residential Private Club
  • Interstate Interchange Economic Development Zones
  • National Historic District
  • Permits Based on Existing Permits

In 2001, the North Carolina General Assembly also made Sports Clubs a part of the list. If HB 667 – 2009 Viticulture/Enology Act is passed, it will now add Equestrian Centers, overriding any communities’ right to vote on whether they want alcohol sales in a location where there is an Equestrian Center that meets the State’s criteria.

Rep. Gibson (D-Union), who argued for this provision before the Senate Commerce Committee says the scope of the Equestrian Center provision would be very limited in its current application. “But that isn’t the point,” says Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “The point is that every time lawmakers pass a special provision of this type for alcohol sales they trample on the people’s sacred right to vote on this matter and render the will of the people secondary to the will of special interest in Raleigh. It’s just not right – no matter how it may be rationalized.”

Take Christian Action Now:

Special provisions for alcohol sales work to make local option alcohol referenda obsolete and disrespect the long-standing right of the people to vote on this issue. HB 667 – 2009 Viticulture /Enology Act is calendared to come before the North Carolina House for concurrence on Monday, August 10. Contact your Representative in the North Carolina House right away (before 7:00 p.m. on Monday) and ask him/her to respect the people’s vote on alcohol sales by voting “NO” on concurrence.

If you fail to respond, this legislation will certainly pass and another right of the people – one of the most sacred rights – the right to vote – will be violated by special interest. That should never happen!

To contact your Representative click here Don’t procrastinate. You may even want to contact him/her at home over the weekend.