COLUMBUS, Neb. – The Columbus City Council voted on Monday to rescind what some residents call an archaic law.
The council voted 6-2 on allowing the sale of liquor on Sunday morning, striking down an old law that denied business owners the ability to sell any type of alcohol, other than beer and wine, before 12 p.m. on Sunday.
A large contingency of business owners and employees spoke in favor of the change, including Tiffany Cech, who says she has been working on flipping the law for around four months. She said she could not find a good reason to have the law in the first place.
“How come I have to tell customers, no I can’t sell you this? No, you can’t drink that, but you can after noon. I mean honestly does it make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me,” says Cech.
Others including Matt Mosemon, who has been a longtime bartender in the community, says that some factory workers get off in the morning on Sunday, and unlike most residents, don’t have the privilege of enjoying a cocktail.
“How many factory workers in this town are deprived of this on a Sunday morning? The first argument is that people can still have beer, well some people don’t like beer. They prefer to have a Morgan and Coke, or a Jack and Coke or some other mixed drink,” says Matt Mosemon.
Council-members John Lohr and Beth Augustine-Schulte, along with police chief Chuck Sherer, were against the move. Augustine-Schulte was the most vocal supporter of the current law, not buying the argument that people are deprived of alcohol for the six-hour period on Sunday.
“If that is such an important need for pleasure, then people will make sure they have it in their house on Sunday morning,” says Augustine-Schulte.
She also said that while the business community may agree with the change, abuse shelters and alcohol-related support groups, would be very unlikely to support liquor sales on Sunday morning.
Chief Sherer says that he did not find a compelling reason to change the law and that if the current law ‘ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.’ Mayor Jim Bulkley, who appeared to support Sunday morning sales, asked Sherer if the CPD has many alcohol issues on the other six mornings of the week.
Sherer responded that they did not.
Bulkley also questioned why council members vote for special designated liquor permits, but are opposed to Sunday morning sales. Augustine-Schulte said that those are two very different circumstances.
The law does not change yet, city staff will now prepare an ordinance to bring before the council. When it comes up, Augustine-Schulte says she will not be changing her vote.
“I don’t care how archaic it is, I will vote no for it every time it comes up,” says Augustine-Schulte.