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House Passes 'Brunch Bill' with County Referendum

Brunch, Alcohol
Dollar Photo Club

Lawmakers have passed a bill to allow the Sunday sales of alcohol in restaurants, private clubs, wineries and distilleries at 10 a.m.

Senate Bill 298, also known as the "brunch bill," passed 84 to 15  in the House Friday.

It moved quickly through the chamber, despite Speaker Tim Armstead stating it wasn't a priority this session.

House Judiciary amended the bill in committee to include a provision requiring county voters approve of the time change through a referendum. However, the bill would not require county commissioners to hold elections to allow the sales, only permit such measures on a ballot. 

The county referendum was not part of the bill as approved in the Senate so it will have to return to the Senate for further consideration. House Judiciary Vice Chairman, Delegate Patrick Lane of Kanawha County stated to the members in the House on Thursday that without the referendum, the "brunch bill" would not survive in the House.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Chris Walters, has said he would prefer the bill allowed counties to opt out of the Sunday morning sales, but there is no official word from Senate leadership that the change will be considered.

The final day to consider bills from the 2016 regular legislative session is on Saturday, March 12.

There will be an extended period into next week for a special budget session.

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