Constituents’ wishes should always come first

Published 9:09am Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For almost a decade Montgomery and Prattville have enjoyed the luxury of collecting Elmore County taxpayers’ dollars on Sundays when they purchase an adult beverage at a restaurant or pub.

The amount of money which has been collected by these two cities over the years is impossible to guess.

Because Wetumpka and Millbrook do not have Sunday liquor sales in their restaurants and pubs, it prohibits local and visiting tax dollars from staying in these respective towns.

A few years ago, the city fathers of Millbrook and Wetumpka approached their local legislators about drafting bills to allow Sunday sales as well as draft beer.

During the 2013 session the bills died after some political posturing took place on Goat Hill in Montgomery.

Stories of why the bills died ranged from just simply running out of time to blaming Montgomery legislators because they didn’t want to see Elmore County taxpayers’ money stay in Elmore County.

Following the failure of both bills, local legislators vowed to re-file the bills and were confident they would pass during the 2014 session.

House Rep. Paul Beckman (R-Prattville) presented a joint bill to allow Sunday sales and draft beer for both cities following the majority approval of both city councils.

The bill was advertised in The Herald for four weeks and looked to be presented before the House within days.

That was until The Herald received the advertisement of separate bills sponsored by Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) in which one called for draft beer sales in both cities, while the Sunday sales bill would require a referendum of the people of both cities.

Mayors Al Kelley and Jerry Willis were taken aback when they first saw the drafts of the bills in The Wetumpka Herald.

The mayors asked the same question as their constituents and even some of the local legislators serving the area.

Why?

Taylor explained himself to a Millbrook city councilman in an email saying, “it was a commitment I made when I ran for office – no Sunday sales without a vote of the people.”

But at whose expense?

“The cities who want Sunday sales,” Taylor told The Herald.

So now the cities of Millbrook and Wetumpka are faced with these questions: Should Taylor’s bill regarding Sunday sales pass and not Beckman’s, will a vote during the June primary be legal? Won’t some registered voters be disenfranchised?

How do you solve that problem?

Special election.

And who pays for that?

“The cities who want Sunday sales.”

What we cannot understand is why Taylor and Beckman didn’t communicate before advertising these bills.

“He didn’t have to do it that way,” Beckman told The Herald. “He never called up the cities to say what he was going to do; he just did it and left them the tab for his legal notice.”

All too often we hear of legislators and congressmen who have their own personal agenda and don’t follow the wishes of the constituents of their districts.

This scenario is exactly that.

Taylor put his personal agenda and political beliefs ahead of his constituents.

And at whose expense?

“The cities who want Sunday sales.”

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