Bill Would Expand Public Drinking in Arkansas

On Thursday Rep. Lee Johnson (R – Greenwood) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) filed H.B. 1228. The bill effectively makes it possible for many cities in dry counties to approve public drinking in “entertainment districts.”

Currently, cities and towns in wet counties can approve public drinking in commercial neighborhoods where bars and restaurants are located.

Under H.B. 1228, city councils could permit public drinking in neighborhoods where private clubs are located.

Arkansas law lets private clubs serve alcohol — even if the private club is located in a dry county.

H.B. 1228 also changes state law regarding where the city has to be located in order to authorize public drinking. If there are entities in the county that are authorized to sell alcohol — like private clubs — then H.B. 1228 says the city council can permit public drinking.

Taken together, these two changes to the law likely would let cities in dry counties permit public drinking districts around private clubs.

Family Council has opposed public drinking for years, because it raises serious concerns about public safety.

Public drinking doesn’t attract new businesses or bolster the economy.

It hurts neighborhoods and families.

Arkansans ought to stay away from any proposal that would expand public drinking in their communities.

Legislation We’re Watching: Hate Crimes, Contraceptives, Abortion, and More

A number of bills have been pre-filed ahead of the 2021 legislative session in Arkansas.

Here are a few of the bills that Family Council is watching.

Good Bills Filed

S.B. 6 (Prohibiting Abortion): This good bill by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) prohibits abortion in Arkansas, except in cases when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Family Council fully supports this good bill. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills Filed

S.B. 3 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Sen. Jim Hendren (R – Gravette) and Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to H.B. 1020. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1020 (Enacting Hate Crimes Legislation): This bad bill by Rep. Fred Love (D – Little Rock) and Sen. Jim Hendren (R – Gravette) enacts hate crimes legislation by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against certain protected classes of people listed in the bill. The bill is virtually identical to S.B. 3. Family Council has opposed hate crimes legislation for more than 20 years, and we oppose this bill as well. Read The Bill Here.

H.B. 1069  (Contraceptives): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R – Russellville) lets pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor. Oral contraceptives carry a number of health risks — which is why women currently need a prescription from a doctor — and they can cause the death of an unborn child by preventing the unborn child from implanting and growing inside the mother’s womb. Family Council opposes H.B. 1069. Read The Bill Here.

Other Bills We’re Watching

H.B. 1066 (Alcohol): This bill by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) would let microbrewery operators ship beer directly to private residences anywhere in the state of Arkansas or to residences in other states that allow direct shipment of alcohol. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 32 (Alcohol): This bill by Sen. Jane English (R – North Little Rock) and Rep. Karilyn Brown (R – Sherwood) would let retail liquor permitholders — such as liquor stores — deliver alcoholic beverages to private residences in the county where the store is located. Read The Bill Here.

Voters Reject Public Drinking in Eureka Springs

Last week voters in Eureka Springs rejected a proposal to legalize public drinking in part of downtown, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

This is really good news.

Act 812 of 2019 lets cities create “entertainment districts” where alcohol can be carried and consumed publicly on streets and sidewalks.

These districts can be permanent or temporary under Act 812.

In February the Eureka Springs City Council decided to authorize a semi-permanent public drinking district in town, but the issue ultimately ended up being placed on the November 2020 ballot for voters to decide.

As we have said time and time again, public drinking is a scourge on the community.

It raises serious concerns about drunk driving and public safety.

Public drinking doesn’t attract new businesses or bolster the economy.

It hurts neighborhoods and families.

Arkansans ought to stay away from any proposal that would legalize public drinking in their communities.

Photo by Photolitherland at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]