Judge, candidates oppose amendment

The Paris Express October 1, 2014

The County Judges Association of Arkansas has passed a resolution opposing a measure that would permit alcohol sales statewide.

Gus Young, the current Logan County Judge, and the two men seeking to replace him in the position said last week they were in agreement with the resolution.

The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment allows, effective July 1, 2015, the manufacture, sale, distribution and transportation of intoxicating liquors is lawful within the entire geographic area of each and every county of Arkansas.

“Arkansas judges feel local control and home rule under Amendment 55 of the Arkansas Constitution is the will of the people for a reason,” said Michael Lincoln, CJAA president and the White County Judge. “Individual counties need to be able to govern the best they can for their constituents and local control is the backbone of that function.”

“The County Judges Association of Arkansas opposes federal or state legislation that takes from local communities their rights to prohibit the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol in their county,” according to the resolution.

Logan County is somewhat unique in that the north side of the county sells alcohol, or is wet, while the south side of the county is dry.

Young said last week he did not vote on the resolution the CJAA leadership adopted in an executive meeting, but he did agree.

“My opinion is that I am not in favor of taking away local control,” said Young. “Because people who live in each county should decide what goes on in their county.”

“I think they are on very stable ground,” said Democratic county judge candidate Mark Limbird. “If I was there I would have voted the same.”

“I agree with the resolution,” Republican candidate Ray Gack added. “County people need to decide whether they want to be wet or dry.”

Gack and Limbird both said that remains true despite the obvious flow of tax dollars from alcohol sales from alcohol free areas, such as Booneville and South Logan County, into counties, such as Franklin, where alcohol is available.

“If (those areas) want to be wet and want the tax money, they need to be the ones to vote wet,” said Gack. “I don’t think people across the state should be the ones to tell Logan County what to do.”

Gack said that is true even with the obvious reason of one county opposing the measure because a neighboring county is dry. Limbird was a little more direct.

“We’ve got beer on the north side,” said Limbird, who lives in Scranton. “If you want beer on the south side, you can do it. I don’t mind (someone) driving to Arkota but I don’t like to see the money leave the county and Nubbin Ridge does affect it.”

The CJAA resolution also states, “the proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution seeks to permit the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol in ‘every geographic area of each and every county of this state’ is overly broad and will create constitutional challenges to existing common sense laws and ordinances protecting minors — such as prohibitions of the sale, manufacture or distribution of alcohol at or adjacent to schools, churches, nursing homes, hospitals or certain public places.”

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