Governor Roy Cooper signs 'brunch bill'

Mimosa and other alcoholic beverages (Shutterstock)

Governor Roy Cooper has signed a new law allowing alcohol sales on Sunday mornings.

The bill headlines several weeks ago when lawmakers said that they were tackling North Carolina's Sunday alcohol laws and since then the so-called "brunch bill" has taken on several different versions.

The the so-called "brunch bill" allows retail outlets and restaurants to start selling alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays (instead of noon) and local governments can adjust restaurant serving hours to earlier.

"The passage of S.B. 155 will help restaurants to better meet the needs of their guests, particularly where tourism drives business or where local residents demand more choices. In cities and counties that elect this option, restaurants will be able to meet customer demands, grow their businesses, create jobs, increase tax revenue and bring patrons into business districts earlier in the day," said Lynn Minges, President & CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, after the bill passed in the General Assembly earlier this week.

Senate Bill 155 also will allow craft distilleries to sell up to five bottles of their spirits to visitors (currently they can only sell one bottle per person per year directly) and offer quarter-ounce samples at events with a permit. The law also changes ways craft breweries operate: it legalizes 32-ounce "crowler" cans, it clarifies a law that allows craft breweries to offer guest taps, and would allow farm breweries to sell beer even if they are in a dry county. Home brewers and winemakers would also be allowed to offer samples at events.

Although it's faced some opposition from the Christian Action League, this is one of the few pieces of legislation that's actually getting bipartisan support.
One of the bill's authors, Republican Senator Rick Gunn of Alamance and Randolph Counties, says it's "good policy" that will help the tourism and hospitality industry.

"We've got some entrepreneurs that are doing these distilleries and doing craft brewing and it is a very rapidly growing industry," Guinn said. "And Anything we can do legislatively and still keep control with the ABC commission but we can help move their needle up a little bit so that they can grow their companies and create jobs and tax base is something I believe we all are for in North Carolina."

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