‘Sunday Brunch Bill’ referendum goes by City Commission on Monday; next stop mostly likely will be the Nov. 5 Rome ballot.

‘Sunday Brunch Bill’ referendum goes by City Commission on Monday; next stop mostly likely will be the Nov. 5 Rome ballot.

A round of mimosas in this image courtesy of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

 

Rome voters are expected to get a chance on Nov. 5 to vote for a referendum that would allow Sunday alcohol sales by the drink between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (the latter the proverbial “first call” on Sundays). It is an extension from a 2018 state law basically allowing communities to decide on their own if they want restaurants mostly catering to brunch crowds on Sundays to pour earlier than the current limit.

The referendum goes before the Rome City Commission twice per the agenda for Monday’s meeting: Once to decide on whether to place it on the Nov. 5 ballot which also features six City Commission races and the other to provide a needed second reading and potential public hearing on the proposal. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be webcast; no organized opposition has been identified as yet but there was talk of at least one congregation questioning its need.

Rome is among 20 communities scheduled to vote on the referendum on Nov. 5, according to the Georgia Restaurant Association which also offers an expanded look at the idea (click here). It also is on the Cartersville city ballot on Nov. 5. Voters in more than 30 communities approved the brunch bill in the November 2018 election.

At its Aug. 19 meeting, Rome’s Alcohol Control Commission unanimously approved sending the package to the City Commission for final review. Minutes from that meeting show:

“Secretary (Joe) Smith presented a resolution and ordinance related to the Brunch Bill. In 2018, the Georgia General Assembly adopted legislation which would allow local governments with Sunday pouring to hold a referendum to allow the pouring of alcohol on Sunday to begin as early as 11 a.m. Currently, 12:30 p.m. is the earliest alcohol can be poured.

This option was not acted on by the City of Rome in 2018 since a separate election would be needed in order for the referendum to occur. Since the City of Rome will be
conducting an election for the Rome City Commission in 2019, the plan is to attach the Brunch Bill Referendum to that ballot. (City Commissioner Jamie) Doss moved to recommend to the City Commission that the appropriate resolution be adopted which would authorize the referendum to be held on Nov. 5, 2019 along with the City Commission election.

A recommendation is also to adopt the corresponding ordinance which would establish the Sunday pouring hours to begin at 11 a.m., if the referendum is approved. Mr. (John)
Kendrick (ACC member) seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimously in favor.

This referendum does not impact the hours of sale for Alcohol Package.

A summary of what’s before the City Commission on Monday:

WHEREAS, the Alcohol Control Commission has recommended to the Rome City
Commission that it consider an amendment to the City Code to provide for Sunday alcohol sales
by the drink from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the City of Rome in accordance with newly
enacted state law and that it call for a special-election referendum on the issue of Sunday alcohol
sales by the drink from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the City of Rome in accordance with state
law; and
WHEREAS, the City of Rome has previously authorized and allowed the sale of alcohol
on Sundays at licensed venues that derive at least 50% of their gross revenues from the sale of
food or who derive at least 50% of their gross revenues from the rental of rooms for overnight
lodging; and
WHEREAS, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 17 to allow for
communities like Rome to change the hours during which alcohol may be served and purchased;
and
WHEREAS, the Rome City Commission desires to allow the citizens of Rome to express
their wishes by way of a special-election referendum on the subject; and
WHEREAS, the Rome City Commission has begun the enactment of an ordinance
amending the City Code to provide for Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink from 11:00 a.m. to
12:30 p.m. in the City of Rome, conditioned on a special-election referendum, in accordance
with O.C.G.A. § 3-3-7(j.1).


The city of Rome ballot for Nov. 5 and what you need to know about the election:

Nine candidates including five incumbents are running for six spots on the City Commission. The top three winners in ward 1 and ward 3 win the seats.

  • Ward 1: Incumbents Bill Irmscher, Milton Slack and Sundai Stevenson are seeking new terms. Challengers include Jim Bojo and Mark Cochran.
  • Ward 3: Incumbents Bill Collins and Craig McDaniel are seeking new terms. Challengers include Bonny Askew and J.J. Walker Seifert.
  • The three candidates in each ward who finish with the most votes win the seats. There is no “runoff.”

Who votes?

  • Any registered voter in the city of Rome. Registration for new or lapsed voters ends Oct .7. Check your status here; better yet, confirm in person at the elections office.
  • Both the Ward 1 and Ward 3 races are “citywide” meaning you can vote for up to three candidates in each ward.
  • What to watch for: ‘Bullet voting’ or ‘slingshot voting.’ That’s where people vote for just one candidate in a ward race even though they are eligible to vote for three. The idea is to “maximize” that chances of that preferred candidate. It has been used here before.
  • Also on the ballot: The City Commission is expected to let the “brunch bill” go before voters (earlier drink sales on Sundays). The proposal is up for first reading this Monday at the City Commission meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.; second reading and final reading is Sept. 9. What it says

So what’s next:

  • Oct. 7: Final day to register to vote in the municipal elections if you’re a new or lapsed voter.
  • Oct. 14: Advance voting begins.
  • Nov. 5. Election day.

 

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