Alabama’s 'Brunch Bill' Would Allow Alcohol Sales On Sunday Mornings

By Britni de la Cretaz 04/28/17

With the bill, Alabama lawmakers are hoping to loosen restrictions on their old-school "Blue Laws."

plates of breakfast foods and a man holding a champagne glass.

An Alabama bill that would allow restaurants to begin selling alcohol earlier in the day on Sundays has been approved by the House and is now headed to the Senate.

The bill, known as the “brunch bill,” would let restaurants begin serving alcohol as early as 10:30am on Sundays, instead of noon. The bill would allow cities and counties to decide individually what time restaurants could begin serving. Liquor stores, however, would remain closed on Sundays.

Similar bills have appeared across the country in the last few years. A bill filed last month in North Carolina, also known as a “brunch bill,” would let restaurants begin serving alcohol as early as 10am on Sundays. Like the Alabama bill, restaurants would have to ask permission from local officials to move the alcohol service time from noon. "If they feel like this would be good for their local economy, they can do it," Sen. Rick Gunn, who filed the North Carolina bill, told WRAL.

Restaurant owners and managers in the state support the bill. "That's extra money, and that's good, but secondly we just kind of think it's a ridiculous law," Biscuit Head regional manager Michael Wester told WYFF. "I think it's just an old law and it's time to change."

The law, according to WRAL, is in line with North Carolina’s baptist history, and is a nod to the state’s historical religious values, which led to the prohibition and restriction of Sunday alcohol sales. Some socially conservative groups disagree with the bill, fearing it will result in more alcohol-related injuries and accidents if alcohol is allowed to be served earlier. Massachusetts passed its own version of the bill back in 2010.

"This 'brunch bill' will allow our North Carolina restaurants and hotels to meet their guests' needs," Lynn Minges, chief executive of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, told WRAL. "With 55 million visitors to our state every year, this bill will be good for tourism and hospitality. The local 'opt in' provision is a new approach. We believe a number of counties will want this new option for their citizens and guests."

A similar bill in Georgia was stalled in the Senate last year, despite overwhelming support from local restaurant groups. Currently, 12 states still have “Blue Laws” on the books that put restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales: Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Indiana is the only state in the country that bans all beer, wine and liquor sales on Sundays.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.