RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow restaurants to sell alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Senate Bill 155 is backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
If the new bill passes, it would still be up to each city and county to decide whether to allow the earlier hours.
When Joe Farmer welcomes customers into Humble Pie on Sunday’s at 11 a.m. he can’t offer the full menu.
“We have a lot of out-of-town customers. They’ve come to Raleigh visit. They come in, they want to have a Bloody Mary at lunch, and they have to wait for an hour. And, they seem a little bit shocked,” said Joe Farmer, co-owner of Humble Pie.
A group of Republican and Democratic senators are taking a shot on the idea, also proposing to loosen some other state liquor laws.
The bill filed Wednesday would allow distillers to do free tasting events at ABC stores.
Fayetteville City Councilman Bill Crisp took issue with the bill.
“I strongly believe noon is time enough for folks to start getting drunk on Sunday. It is the Sabbath, what we need is to encourage folks to go to church again and ‘restore’ moral values in their children. Alcohol before noon? Sales are alive and well and noon does not appreciably hurt distilleries,” he said.
The Reverend Mark Creech of the Christian Action League is opposing both ideas, saying the bill shows a “lack of respect for the religious community.”
“The bill has got us moving in the opposite direction, unless we’re looking for more social harm,” Creech said.
“I’ve always been in favor of separation in church and state. I think it’s good for business,” Farmer said.
The bill is also supported by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
“This ‘brunch bill’ will allow our North Carolina restaurants and hotels to meet their guest’s needs,” the group said in a news release. “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.”