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Bryant signs bill legalizing in-city liquor sales

JACKSON — The governor has signed a bill that would allow a vote on legalizing liquor sales inside the limits of cities with populations of at least 5,000 people.

Under Senate Bill 2497 other residents of the county would not have a vote.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill Monday.

The old law required liquor votes to be countywide even though liquor can be sold only within municipal boundaries.

The bill also would allow liquor votes minus county input in any municipality that is a county seat.

In a message to the Legislature, Bryant said he signed the bill with assurances from legislative leaders “that concerns regarding county seats that do not meet the 5,000-person threshold will be addressed in the 2013 Legislative session.”

Bryant said to allow small county seats to sell liquor “may cause significant law enforcement challenges and administrative burdens.”

Bryant said he signed the proposal because it was an issue of local autonomy and there was a need to end the current “patchwork” system where municipalities in dry counties lobby the Legislature to allow them to vote on liquor minus the input of county residents.

Under the new law, if voters in a municipality approve the sale of liquor, it would be up to the town’s governing board to set guidelines. The board could restrict the sale of liquor and wine to restaurants or could allow it to be sold in package stores.

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