House Committee votes to let libations flow for DNC

A bill to allow liquor sales on Labor Day in Mecklenburg County has cleared a key House committee.

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Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — The House Commerce subcommittee that deals with alcohol beverage control issues has cleared a bill to allow liquor sales on Labor Day in Mecklenburg County so the Democratic National Convention doesn't run dry.

You can buy beer and wine in grocery stores and other retailers that have the proper permits. But liquor (rum, whiskey, etc.) is sold only in government-run ABC stores. Under current state law, ABC stores (which are run by units of local government) must close on Labor Day. ABC stores also are closed all Sundays. 

For the average tippler, this might mean stocking up on a couple of bottles Friday for the long weekend. But this year, the Democratic National Convention will be coming to Charlotte right as the long weekend hits. Bars and restaurants expect to welcome an extra 68,000 visitors for festivities that begin over the weekend and would have to amass a larger than normal stockpile.

"Most of the retail establishments and other venues that might be rented out don't have the storage capacity," said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg. Stockpiling liquor in private storage closet presents a safety and security issue, Samuelson said.

The bill passed easily on a voice vote, but Rep. William Current, R-Gaston, did ask for one assurance.

"Can Rep. Samuelson ensure that all those drunks stay on the other side of the river," Current asked. Gaston County is next door to Mecklenburg.

Samuelson allowed as how nobody is allowed to drink and drive. Meanwhile, committee chairman Jamie Boles, R-Moore, had his own take.

"The only thing that I'm hoping is that, when they do sober up, it will be November the 10th, and they'll all go back home and realize they don't have a job," Boles said. 

The measure next goes to the House floor.

Update: The House has passed this measure on a voice vote. It now goes to the Senate. 

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