by Ryan Pitkin
With all of the bickering across the aisles in politics today, there is still one thing that can bridge even the deepest divides in this country: booze.
A bipartisan group of Charlotte-area lawmakers has proposed legislation to the General Assembly that would keep Alcoholic Beverage Control liquor stores in Mecklenburg County open on Labor Day, which falls on Sunday, Sept. 3, the day before the Democratic National Convention begins. The convention runs Sept. 4-6.
Restaurant owners have complained that they don't have the space to keep enough alcohol in their restaurants to handle the influx of visitors coming in for the weekend and the convention. They say they would need to restock that Sunday.
"We are a service business," said Mary Ward, a spokeswoman for Mecklenburg ABC. "When there are major events in our county it is important we be able to serve our customers, both retail and commercial."
Ward said she was "impressed" that legislators responded so quickly to restaurant owners' needs.
Representatives backing the bill include Mecklenburg County Republicans Bill Brawley and Ruth Samuelson and Democrats Becky Carney and Beverly Earle.
The legislation will be scheduled for a committee hearing in coming weeks before being sent to the House. Opposition isn't expected.
"This is a common sense bill that most members should be able to support," said Samuelson in an email.
North Carolina does not allow ABC stores to sell liquor on Sundays, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, July 4th or Labor Day. Discussion of keeping ABC stores open on Sundays has been met unfavorably in the General Assembly in the past. And it's never made an exception for legislatively-mandated holidays, Ward said.