Booze UPDATE: Local option drives dropped in Faulkner and Craighead counties; Saline target met | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Booze UPDATE: Local option drives dropped in Faulkner and Craighead counties; Saline target met

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Our Community, Our Dollars, the campaign organization attempting to put local option retail alcohol measures on county ballots is giving up in two of them — Faulkner and Craighead, but have met the signature standard in Saline County.

Their news release:

We just received word from the County Clerk’s office in Saline County that we have turned in a significant amount of signatures - enough to put the wet/dry issue on the ballot in that county. Assuming the issue ultimately makes the ballot, we will now focus our attention on encouraging Saline County residents to get out and vote in support of turning Saline from dry to wet. There are significant economic benefits to this change, and we’re looking forward to continuing to educate residents about the issue.

Effective today, the Our Community, Our Dollars ballot question committee will no longer pursue our initiatives in Craighead and Faulkner counties to provide voters there an opportunity to vote on whether the counties should be wet or dry.

Given the strong support we have received from voters in both of these counties during the last several months of gathering signatures, we greatly regret that they will not have the opportunity to decide this issue through the democratic process. It has been decades since voters in these counties have had such an opportunity.

However, given where we stand today on the requirement that 38 percent of voters in each county must sign a petition to place this matter on the ballot, we have decided to discontinue our efforts in Faulkner and Craighead.

Members of Our Community, Our Dollars operate key businesses and employ more than 2,500 people in Faulkner and Craighead counties.

Ultimately, these companies desire for all the communities they serve to grow and prosper, and to offer an outstanding quality of life for their individual citizens. They will continue their missions of being strong corporate partners in the many communities they serve.

The drive has been underwritten by at least $1 million from Walmart and Kum & Go, primarily Walmart.  Conway County liquor dealers have spent several hundred thousand trying to keep the measure off the Faulkner County ballot and liquor stores neighboring Craighead County also worked against that effort.

This doesn't end the fight against alcohol in Faulkner and Craighead by any means, however. The statewide effort to amend the constitution to allow sales in all counties proceeds, though it is facing a legal challenge mounted by retail liquor stores, particularly in counties like Conway, Greene and Poinsett, where liquor store operators benefit from serving more densely populated neighboring counties like Faulkner and Craighead.

Saline's signatures have been certified by the county clerk. Uncertain if any party will mount a challenge to that proposal's place on the ballot.

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