Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1087 into law June 30 authorizing the possession of beer, light wines and light spirits in dry counties effective in January. However, counties and municipalities are able to remain dry with an election if petitioned.
Through the bill, people will be able to take alcohol into restaurants that allow it, according to District 17 Sen. Chuck Younger.
“If you have a restaurant in a dry county and you go in that restaurant, if the restaurant allows it, you can take the bottle in a brown bag, and they can charge you for a glass and you can mix your own drink,” he said.
Younger said stores and restaurants are still forbidden to sell alcohol.
Monroe County is one of 29 Mississippi’s dry counties for alcoholic beverages and one of 31 dry counties in the state for beer and light wine, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue.
According to the bill, it shall be the duty of the board of supervisors to call an election upon the presentation and filing of a proper petition signed by either at least 20 percent of the qualified voters or 1,500 – which number is lesser.
The same applies for municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents if a petition signed by 20 of qualified voters is presented.
House Bill 1087 states from and after Jan. 1, 2021, “prohibition is renounced as to the possession of alcoholic beverages. It shall then be lawful to possess alcoholic beverages throughout the state, unless otherwise prohibited in this chapter.”
“We understand people need to get to their homes and why it passed. We weren’t really enforcing it any way as long as people were being smart and careful about what they were doing,” said Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook said, adding it is unlawful to have an open container in vehicles.
Existing laws pertaining to the sale, manufacturing and distribution of alcoholic beverages in dry counties shall remain in effect.
Other North Mississippi counties that are dry for alcoholic beverages are Itawamba, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Alcorn, Union, Tippah, Benton, Tate, Calhoun, Choctaw, Attala and Webster. The west side of Chickasaw County is dry, while the east side is wet.
As far as beer and light wine, Choctaw, Oktibbeha, Webster, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Lafayette, Union, Prentiss, Alcorn, Tippah, Benton and Tate are dry.
The sale of alcohol, beer and light wine is permitted in Aberdeen, Amory and the Lee County side of Nettleton.
The bill was introduced by District 8 Rep. Trey Lamar, who represents parts of Lafayette and Tate counties. No senator or representative representing Monroe County voted against the passage of the bill.