The 2017 General Assembly approved legislation commonly known as the “Brunch Bill” that would allow alcohol sales and consumption starting as early as 10:00am on Sunday’s compared to consumption beginning at Noon.
The Smithfield Town Council took up the proposal Tuesday night. Even though the majority of council members present at the meeting supported the Brunch Bill it failed to pass.
In a 4-to-2 vote, the council voted to approve the Brunch Bill, but under state law the measure has to pass by two-thirds majority in the first reading, meaning it failed.
Town Manager Michael Scott said the town board would vote again next month on passing the Brunch Bill. During the second vote a simple majority is needed.
Mayor Pro Tem Emery Ashley, Councilmen Perry Harris, John Dunn and Steve Rabil voted for the measure. Councilmen Travis Scott and Marlon Lee voted against. Councilman Roger Wood was absent.
Councilman Scott told WTSB News on Wednesday he voted no because of his morals and the way he was raised. “I had rather people attend church rather than drink alcohol, especially on Sunday mornings. I realize it has an impact on the economy. Sunday is suppose to be a day we worship – it suppose to be all days – but I’m not going to change my position.”
In a letter to Mayor Andy Moore and members of the town council, Sarah Edwards, Executive Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation said several downtown restaurant owners support the measure and believe it would have a significant financial impact on their businesses as well as extending their hours of operation.
Nathan and Colleen Roby, owners of the Simple Twist, wrote the town stating, “Allowing our business to sell alcohol before Noon will increase our sales and encourage more people to come out for brunch.”
Mike O’Dowd, owner of SoDoSoPa said in a letter to town officials, “This change will make it more financially feasible for SoDoSoPa to open on Sundays as it will increase our revenues.”
The Smithfield Town Council will vote a second time on the Brunch Bill on September 5th.