Legislative Panel Rejects Wet-Dry Study

OCTOBER 21, 2005 - Posted at 7:59 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A study of giving residents of dry counties a say in whether private clubs should be allowed to serve alcohol has been rejected by a group of Arkansas lawmakers.  The proposal came up at a meeting yesterday of the House and Senate committees on state agencies and governmental affairs.

Currently, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board decides whether liquor by the drink is sold at private clubs in dry counties.  Representative Scott Sullivan (D-DeQueen), who requested an interim study on the issue, said the board had not given adequate consideration to local opinion in dry counties.

Howard Latimer of Lockesburg and Dick Longing of Conway proposed changes that would allow residents in dry counties to have more of a say in allowing alcohol to be served there.  Latimer said many people in dry counties feel like they've been sold down the river when they find out that a state agency can, as he put it, "stuff alcohol down their throat by approving a private club."

Sullivan's proposal would authorize a county quorum court to call a referendum by a two-thirds vote of the body or by petitions with signatures totaling 35 percent of the number of voters in the last governor's election.  The committee rejected the proposal in a voice vote.  Sullivan said he would work on the measure for possible introduction in the 2007 regular season.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)