The Mississippi House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow cities, including New Albany, to make their own decisions on the sale of wine and spirits within city limits.
The House Wednesday passed the legislation on a 65-54 vote. The issue now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The bill allows cities with 5,000 or more population to conduct an election on the issue if petitions are submitted containing signatures of 20 percent of registered voters.
The city of New Albany, as well as Corinth, had asked the legislature to permit such an election. Current law requires that the election be conducted countywide even though sales would be permitted only within the city.
New Albany voters twice in the past three years have approved the sale of wine and spirits, but have had their wishes thwarted by county voters who have voted down the proposal.
We support the city’s view that city voters should make this decision, not people who live outside the city who do not pay city taxes or for the upkeep of city services. We were disappointed that our state representative, Margaret Ellis Rogers, failed to support the city’s request.
National restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, Longhorn Steakhouse and others generally do not locate in cities that do not allow a glass of wine or a cocktail to be served with dinner. We need to expand our hospitality industry, which provides significant tax revenue to help keep our other taxes in New Albany low. This is an important business decision for the future of our city.
We hope our state senator, Nickey Browning, will show a more progressive attitude than Rogers when the legislation is taken up in the Senate.