Clayton has become one of the most recent municipalities to approve the sale of alcohol earlier on Sundays under the “brunch bill” passed by the legislature this session, and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The Clayton Town Council unanimously approved the ordinance after a public hearing on the measure Monday night.
The bill, SB155, allows counties and municipalities to individually decide if alcohol can be sold in their area earlier on Sunday morning, moving from noon to as early as 10 a.m. as opposed to making the decision on a statewide level.
This lets local bodies decide what works best for their own area.
The bill does not just apply to restaurants though; retailers such as grocery stores would be able to sell alcohol earlier as well.
The law has no affect on ABC stores, which would remain closed on Sundays.
Joining Clayton this week in passing ordinances under the Brunch Bill was Wake County, which approved a measure in a 6-1 vote on Monday approving the sale of alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sunday, as well as Carrboro, Durham, Garner, High Point, Currituck County, Durham County, and Pender.
Already most of the municipalities in Wake County have passed ordinances including, Raleigh, Apex, Wake Forest, and Holly Springs.
The overwhelming majority of alcohol-permitted establishments exist in incorporated areas of Wake County, in fact only 15 establishments permitted to sell alcohol in all of Wake County are outside of municipal limits, however one of those is Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
The rest are mostly country clubs.
The Charlotte City Council seemed poised to take up a vote on its own ordinance along with the first wave of municipalities to take up the question, but will likely take its vote in the next couple of weeks.
The bill found opposition from the Christian Action League during the debate process.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said The Christian Action League of North Carolina still viewed the bill as a problem after it cleared the legislature, not only because it is about alcohol, “but because it makes so many significant changes in alcohol policy that we believe can be dangerous to the public’s health. We genuinely believe this legislation should give you pause.”
Creech also said the legislation has the potential to exacerbate underage drinking because of the provision in the bill allowing for the sale and shipment of alcohol to customers in other states. He said direct shipping is nearly impossible to regulate when it comes to underage drinking and quality controls.
“With respect to the brunch provision, this legislation repeals current law that’s largely been in deference and respect to churches. And it [raises] the question, where’s that respect now?” Creech said. “I think we deserve that respect to continue. And by the way, there’s nothing wrong with government working to provide an optimum environment for religion to flourish, and this legislation diminishes that.”