What's going on with the North Carolina 'brunch bill?'

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The new bill allows retail outlets and restaurants to start selling alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays

It made headlines back in spring 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.

Currently, the brunch bill is still alive making its way through the General Assembly. The latest rendition of the bill emerged from the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee Thursday, the revised bill (Senate Bill 155) includes parts of other bills regulating alcohol in the state.

The new 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.

Senate Bill 155 also would 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.

The next steps for the so-called "brunch bill" is for the House Finance Committee to take it up and for it to go to the floor for a vote.

Although it's facing 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."

Lawmakers say they are confident that the bill will pass; and if passed, it would take effect immediately.
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