LITTLE ROCK — Legislation that would allow the four dry townships in Pulaski County to vote on whether alcohol can be sold in them was endorsed by a Senate committee Tuesday.
Senate Bill 374 by Sen. Jane English, D-North Little Rock, would allow the Pulaski County judge to call an election to allow residents in North Little Rock’s Park Hill, Gray Township near the Little Rock Force Base, Union Township in Little Rock and Bayou Meto north of the airbase to vote on whether they want alcohol to be sold in their communities.
The measure advanced on a voice vote and goes to the Senate.
English told the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee that the proposal is supported by the North Little, Jacksonville and Sherwood chambers of commerce.
Terry Hartwick, president and CEO of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, spoke for the bill, saying it would help economic development in those areas. Also speaking for the bill was Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher.
Former state Rep. Ted Thomas, representing a group of citizens who live in those areas, spoke against the measure, saying the bill would circumvent the petition process which is already available for people in dry areas who want to vote on whether to go wet.
Attorney Justin Allen, who represents the chamber groups, said Union Township has been dry since 1953, Gray since 1956, Park Hill since 1978 and Bayou Meto since 1984. He said the four territorial divisions no longer exist as voting units in Pulaski County.
“The boundaries have been dissolved. None of these areas exist any more,” he said.
The panel also unanimously endorsed House bill 1749 by Rep. Mary Broadaway, D-Paragould, which would allow wineries to ship wine directly to Arkansas consumers. The wineries could only take orders in person, not over the phone or the Internet, and would have to collect the same sales and excises taxes they would collect if the sale took place at an Arkansas winery.
The bill goes to the Senate.
The committee rejected two bills sponsored by Sen. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia.
SB 59 would prohibit political candidates from using campaign contributions to buy tickets to other candidates’ fundraisers. SB 109 would prohibit someone who is a majority owner of two or more corporations from giving multiple campaign contributions, one from each corporation, to a single candidate.