HB 1728 Amended; Jonesboro Removed From Consideration

APRIL 1, 2003
Posted at: 6:17 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A bill to allow Jonesboro and Conway residents to vote on allowing liquor by the drink sales will go before the House Rules Committee a second time after it was resoundingly defeated by a voice-vote two weeks ago.

HB 1728, sponsored by Conway Rep. Betty Pickett, is scheduled to be heard by the committee when it convenes at noon. Under House rules, a bill must undergo amendment before being reheard by a committee. The amendment to be offered Wednesday would remove the city of Jonesboro from consideration in the bill, and solely allow residents of the city of Conway to vote on a liquor by the drink issue.

Sources within Citizen's for a Progressive Arkansas, the organization behind the bill, and its lobbying firm, Paschall & Associates of Little Rock, confirmed the amendment to KAIT late Tuesday afternoon.

In its original form, HB 1728 would have allowed the dry counties of Craighead and Faulkner Counties, and the cities of Jonesboro and Conway to vote on liquor by the drink measures that would limit sales to hotels, restaurants, or convention centers. Votes on a ballot issue could have come from the current law of a petition signed by 38% percent of registered voters in a county, or by majority votes of either a county quorum court, or city council.

The bill was later amended to first specifically define what is required of a restaurant to sell liquor by the drink, and then further to focus the bill specifically on Jonesboro and Conway.

Advocacy groups on both sides of the debate descended on the Rules Committee on March 19, where the bill was defeated.