A proposal to remove restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales is headed for a vote of the full East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council after a committee referred it without recommendation Wednesday.
Some council members have expressed reservations about the measure and it’s fate is unclear.
The two proposals, by outgoing Councilwoman Alison Gary, would make Sunday just like any other day with respect to the sale of wine, beer and liquor, Gary said.
“These two ordinances do two things,” Gary told the Council’s Finance and Executive Committee, of which she is not a member. “They allow bars to open on a Sunday and they allow retailers to sell alcohol before 11 o’clock.”
No one spoke at Wednesday’s public hearing, and Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle moved that the committee forward it to the full council without a recommendation.
“I believe that this is something that needs to be vetted by the full council,” Marcelle said. “There’s been a lot of talk, pro and con for it, I would just like to have a full discussion with the full council.”
Marcelle’s motion passed without objection. Committee members Smokie Bourgeois and Chandler Loupe did not attend the meeting.
After the committee meeting, Marcelle said she would vote for the measure.
“People are going to drink when they want to drink,” she said. “I don’t drink, but I don’t have a problem with anyone buying alcohol whenever they want.”
Marcelle said she had not heard from any residents, including clergy, of her district who were against the measure.
“I believe this is just common sense,” Marcelle said.
Councilmen Scott Wilson and Joel Boé said they, too, would support the measure.
“There is no other business that we regulate like that,” Boé said. “I am going to vote for it on free enterprise grounds.”
Councilman Trae Welch said he had not decided whether he would support the measure, and suggested putting it to a public vote.
“It’s a big decision for us to make,” Welch said.
Ronnie Edwards said she wouldn’t support the council acting to change the law, but would be in favor of putting it to a public vote.
“If the community supports it, I don’t have a problem with it,” Edwards said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker said he opposes the proposal.
“I think the ordinance we have now is good and I don’t see any reason to change it,” he said.
Two local restaurateurs said Wednesday they would welcome the change.
“I think it’s long overdue,” said Andy Blouin, who is an owner of Serrano’s Salsa Company restaurant, Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s bar and restaurant and Blend Wine Bar. “There’s not any reason we shouldn’t have that option.”
Blouin said Lafayette and New Orleans had already enacted similar rules.
“Just because we are able to open on Sunday doesn’t mean that we will open on Sunday,” he said. “Probably 90 percent of the operators will not deem it wise or financially feasible to open on Sunday.”
The overall effect of changing the ordinance would probably be very small, Blouin said.
Scott Overby, who owns Doe’s Eat Place, said even though his restaurant doesn’t open on Sunday, he doesn’t have a problem with the rule being changed.
“Go look at any other big city,” Overby said. “I don’t see it being a big deal.”
The measure will go to the full council for a vote Wednesday.