It’s not an obvious, cut-and-dried decision.
• When it brings the matter to a vote, possibly in early June, the council could choose the blanket approach: make Sunday sales legal in all establishments that carry the proper permitting. In other words, if you can sell it on Saturday, you can sell it on Sunday.
• The council could decide to restrict Sunday sales to a certain district, such as Noble Street’s bars and restaurants. That might pacify some of the law’s staunchest opponents, but it also would limit some of the fiscal benefits to bar and restaurant owners in the city.
• The council also could impose a later starting time for legal Sunday sales — such as noon — to give credence to Sunday mornings in the Bible Belt being the Lord’s time for worship, or at least for not imbibing in public.
• Or it could select some other option — or perhaps a hybrid of those three.
By itself, the governor’s signature on the Sunday sales bill is not a game-changer for Anniston. Once fully implemented, the law won’t miraculously alter the financial bottom line for the city’s economy — though it’d be foolish to assume that bars and restaurants whose patrons are inclined to drink on Sundays won’t see an uptick in business.
Instead, the Sunday sales bill is but one part of the larger modernization of Anniston’s entire picture: its business climate; its weekend offerings for ecotourists; and its quality of life for residents. Put simply, it brings Anniston a step closer to the modern world.
It’s unfortunate that the state requires local politicians to converge on Montgomery, hat in hand, and ask politely for the right to make local decisions. If anything, the Anniston Ecotourism Beverage Bill is the perfect example of the bad design of the state’s 1901 Constitution. Thank goodness that this bill meandered its way through the minefield that is the state Legislature and survived intact. The city should consider itself fortunate.