LITTLE ROCK — The House Rules Committee on Wednesday rejected a bill intended to give local elected officials in dry counties authority to block applications for private club permits.
On a voice vote, the committee turned back House Bill 1387 by Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn.
The director of the Arkansas Beverage Control Division currently rules on permits that allow restaurants and private clubs in dry counties to sell alcoholic beverages. Appeals of the director’s decisions go to the ABC Board
Payton’s bill would require someone seeking a private club permit in a dry county to take the proposal before the local city council or quorum court. After a review, the local governing body would decide whether to issue a resolution authorizing the applicant to petition the ABC division for a permit.
Without the resolution, the proposal could not be submitted to the state. The applicant could appeal the ruling to circuit court.
Payton said he wanted the authority in the hands of government closest to local residents. But some local elected officials said his bill would politicize the process at the local level, clog up court dockets and inhibit economic development.
The Arkansas Municipal League and the Association of Arkansas Counties both oppose HB 1387.