During last week’s meeting, the El Dorado City Council discussed “rowdiness” in its entertainment district downtown, according to the El Dorado New-Times.

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.

Act 874 of 2021 expanded the law to let cities in dry counties approve public drinking as well if the city contains a private club that serves alcohol.

This year lawmakers passed Act 34, which lets cities and towns that do not collect advertising and promotion taxes on hotels and restaurants establish entertainment districts where public drinking is legal. This has the potential to expand public drinking in Arkansas by letting communities authorize public drinking in entertainment districts even if the community does not cater toward hospitality and tourism.

Family Council strongly opposed each of these laws, because of the harm that public drinking causes to communities.

In 2019 El Dorado’s city council voted to authorize public drinking in an entertainment district covering approximately nine blocks downtown.

At the July 13 meeting, City Council Member Frank Hash reportedly noted that disorderly and unruly behavior has become a recurring problem on the weekends in parts of El Dorado’s public drinking district.

Yesterday’s El Dorado News-Times article indicates that law enforcement has faced challenges policing El Dorado’s entertainment district, and that litter and other types of disruptive behavior have been a problem associated with the area.

As we have said for years, 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, bolster the economy, or revitalize Main Street. It hurts neighborhoods and families.