Sale of beer, liquor to be settled Nov. 3
A countywide referendum is being held on the question to allow the sale of wine or beer in the county, as is a referendum to permit the sale of liquor. The beer and liquor issues are decided separately, and each has its own place on the ballot.
It’s the first time in over 40 years voters have the chance to decide on the two issues. Voters decided to remain dry in the 1970s referendum.
Supporters hope the measure passes this time, pointing the loss of both local sales and local sales taxes as residents cross county lines in any direction to purchase beverage alcohol. Observers of retail sales and buyer habits point out that those leaving the county usually end up purchasing not only their alcohol supply, but groceries, gasoline, clothing and hardware, frequently visiting discount and big box stores, resulting in a drain on tax revenue needed by local government to provide public services. Not only does tax drain result, but local retailers are affected as well, as sales they may have made to local consumers are lost to stores in other towns.
Proponents of the referendums also point out that new legislation, signed by the governor, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021, which essentially repeals the state’s prohibition of alcohol, meaning it is legal to possess and consume beer or liquor in any county of the state. However, counties and municipalities must still hold a referendum in order to legally sell alcoholic beverages
Supporters say, considering the new law and the fact that Walthall County is the only dry holdout and surrounded on all sides by wet counties (or a Louisiana parish), it is foolish to continue to send local sales and tax dollars to other counties.
For the most part there’s been little organized opposition to the measures. Those who are against alcohol sales say alcohol related crimes and arrests will increase and uphold prohibition as a moral issue. They are just as adamant as to their reasons to oppose the issue as those who favor legalization are in support of the measure.