Should liquor be sold on Sundays? An NC bill says yes, and that’s not the only change

Shoppers looking to add the ABC store to their Sunday grocery runs may be in luck.

North Carolina has long resisted Sunday sales of liquor. You can buy beer and wine at private stores on Sundays, or liquor by the drink at bars and restaurants, but government-owned Alcoholic Beverage Control stores are closed.

But that would change under an expansive bill moving forward in the legislature that would shift many of North Carolina’s alcohol rules.

Under current law, ABC stores are not allowed to open on Sundays, New Years Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day. This bill would allow local governments to permit ABC stores to open on Sundays starting at 10 a.m. It would also allow the stores to open on all of those holidays except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day if local governments agree.

In addition to allowing Sunday sales,the ABC omnibus would also allow permit holders such as restaurants and bars to offer happy hour drink specials, which are currently prohibited in the state, and to-go and delivery sales of mixed beverages and wine.

The bill had been at a standstill, but it took a step forward on the path to becoming law on Tuesday when it passed the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee.

New additions

Ahead of the vote Tuesday, the bill was amended to allow the sale of beer and wine at community college sporting events, which is already allowed at universities.

To allow further flexibility, the bill now also allows permit holders to purchase malt beverages and unfortified wine from either a retailer or wholesaler. It would also allow fortified wine to be purchased from an ABC store or wholesaler. Wholesalers sell products in bulk to outlets and retailers.

Also added was a provision that an alcohol law enforcement agent or local ABC officer who issue a citation to an establishment’s employee must notify the permit holder within five days of the citation.

The bill will now move to the finance committee before the rules committee, where bills often go before either getting advanced to a floor vote or killed.

Primary bill sponsors include Republican Sens. Tim Moffitt, Todd Johnson, Bobby Hanig and Tom McInnis, all Republicans in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.