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Mixed opinions on Arkansas statewide alcohol sales - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Mixed opinions on Arkansas statewide alcohol sales

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Hempstead County, Ark. -

There's a campaign drive brewing in Arkansas to end dry counties statewide.

Last month, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved the name and title of an amendment to make liquor sales legal throughout the state.

Supporters need more than 78,000 signatures of registered voters to get on the November ballot.

If the proposal passes, will it end local restrictions on alcohol?

"As a business owner, I think it would help us," said Malinda Brinkmeyer, Tailgaters Co-Owner, Hope, Arkansas.

Brinkmeyer is helping gather signatures for a petition to legalize the sale of alcohol in Hempstead County.

3,300 signatures are needed to get the issue on the ballot in November.

Meanwhile, there's another petition in the state that would eliminate local option alcohol elections all-together.

If the statewide amendment passes, it would wipe out local dry jurisdictions and leave regulation, but not prohibition of the sale of alcohol to the legislature.

"I am for it, explained Brinkmeyer. "The reason I am for it is because I hate to see all the revenue leaving our county and leaving the state for that matter."

If Arkansas voters get a chance to vote on the amendment and approve it, Hempstead and Columbia counties would become wet no matter the result of any local option election held.

The "Vote for Growth in Columbia County" group is trying to gather about 6,300 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Their petition calls for a cap of about four to six liquor stores total to be built in the county, if the measure passes.

"In Columbia County, you have to drive 20 to 30 minutes any direction to get alcohol so that increases the people on the road and the accident or fatality rate will be higher," said David Nelson, "Vote for Growth in Columbia County" organizer.

Right now, there are currently 37 dry counties in Arkansas and 38 wet counties.

While there are supporters of legalizing alcohol sales, there are also strong opponents.

"I know nothing good comes from it. It causes a lot of problems, marital trouble, problems with children and problems in general, explained Hempstead County Pastor Revel Kidd. "I'm against it."

Kidd says he's not surprised by the push to legalize alcohol sales, but he hopes if it does get on the ballot Arkansans will step up and take a stand against it.

"I've taken pride in our county not being a wet county and I've always taken pride in it," said Kidd. "I don't want to see it go wet."

Arkansas is the last state in the union with a majority of its counties dry.

Signatures to legalize alcohol for all 75 Arkansas counties must be collected by July 7th.

The Arkansas Municipal League will be meeting next week at it's annual conference to consider a measure that would allow each municipality to decide whether it wants to be wet or dry.

Now such decisions are decided county by county, township by township, but not city by city.

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