Voters in the City of Houston will have the opportunity to choose whether the city comes out from under the dry laws in June.
In a special meeting held on Thursday night, the board of aldermen accepted petitions requesting elections for both beer and light wine sales and the sales of wine and spirits within the city limits of Houston. According to state law, once the required number of signatures (20% of the registered voters of the municipality) are presented to the city, the city then has up to 30 days to call an election.
The petition drive was started last summer by a group called “Houston Forward” that was put together by CDF Director, Sean Johnson, to make an effort to come out from under the dry laws.
“Despite however one may feel personally about alcohol sales in Houston, we cannot ignore the economic handicap that being dry places on our community. We’re talking about multiple tens of thousands of dollars and substantial tourism and sales tax revenues that we’re missing out on each month because of our dry status,” says Johnson.
While a vote to legalize alcohol in Houston is not certain, the mayor and board of aldermen are being proactive in addressing the legalization should it occur.
City officials have spoken with officials in New Albany and Pontotoc (towns similar to Houston who’ve recently voted to come out from under the dry laws) and have reviewed their ordinances, and have drafted a local ordinance that will be ready to put in place should Houston also vote to come out from under the dry laws.
According to City Clerk, Lisa Easley, the Houston ordinance would be very similar to the ordinances put in place in New Albany and Pontotoc, and in some cases stricter.
Only restaurants with professional, state-approved kitchens that generate over 50% of their revenue from food sales will be able to sell alcohol
Alcohol will not be sold after 10:30 pm at restaurants or at stores
There will be no sales of any alcoholic beverages on Sundays at stores or restaurants
No exterior advertising for alcohol will be allowed
There will be no “single sales” (40 oz, tallboys, etc.) of beer or light wine allowed at stores
No beer or light wine will be sold through drive-through windows, such as a “beer barn”
Consumers of alcohol at restaurants will not be allowed to leave the restaurant with their alcohol
“If you drive through Pontotoc or New Albany, you’d have no way of knowing if the towns were wet or not, and I think that’s what the mayor and board are looking to do here with this legislation. The goal here is increasing economic activity and recruiting new investment in the community. This ordinance will help us do that in a good way: no beer joints, no junky signs, no single sales of beer and a 10:30 cut off for sales…it’s all very reasonable,” says Johnson.
The election will be held at City Hall (120 E Madison St. – south of the courthouse) on Thursday, June 27th. The election is ONLY for voters registered in the City of Houston.