Measure seeks uniformity in alcohol salesSouth Dakota bars and stores would be allowed to sell alcohol every day of the year under legislation pending before a legislative committee. Right now, there’s a mishmash of laws governing what days and what hours beer, wine and liquor can be sold for consumption on and off the premises, Rep. Charles Turbiville said in testimony Friday to the House Commerce Committee.
By: Wayne Ortman, The Associated Press
South Dakota bars and stores would be allowed to sell alcohol every day of the year under legislation pending before a legislative committee.
Right now, there’s a mishmash of laws governing what days and what hours beer, wine and liquor can be sold for consumption on and off the premises, Rep. Charles Turbiville said in testimony Friday to the House Commerce Committee.
The bill, suggested by a summer study committee, would allow any alcohol sales — either off-sale or on-sale — from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
“What we’re trying to do basically is put everything on a level playing field,” Turbiville said. “It is extremely confusing for law enforcement, it’s extremely confusing for owners of establishments to try and continue to figure out when you can sell what.”
Turbiville said on-sale liquor sales are now prohibited between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., while holders of an off-sale license can’t sell between midnight and 7 a.m.
Current law bans liquor sales on Sunday, Memorial Day and Christmas, unless local municipalities approve Sunday sales, he said. Businesses can sell beer on Christmas, Memorial Day and Sundays.
The committee deferred a vote on the bill.
An amendment offered to the committee would allow any municipality or county to prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays, Memorial Day and Christmas.
“That again leads to local control,” said Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, a member of the summer study committee. “They know much better the pulse of the community.”
Yvonne Taylor, representing the South Dakota Municipal League, said the power to block Sunday sales should not be taken away from towns.
“We think that the sale of alcohol is very much a community standard and ought to be decided locally if there is a great desire in that community not to allow those kinds of sales,” Taylor said.
The bill also would allow people under age 21 to make sales in certain off-sale establishments if the license holder or someone age 21 or older is on the premises. The change applies to businesses in which alcohol sales make up less than 50 percent of the gross business.
Rep. Susy Blake, D-Sioux Falls, questioned the change in age requirements for clerks.
“Could the supervisor be in the back room and the kid you have selling is 19 years old and some of his buddies come in ... that puts that kid in a lot of pressure. This can go until 2 in the morning. That’s a long time,” she said.
Following up on that, Rep. Eldon Nygaard, D-Vermillion, asked if there’s any supervisory requirement now for clerks in a business where alcohol sales are less than 50 percent of gross business.
“In fact, you could have a 14-or 15-year-old selling beer, is that the state of the law today?” he asked Matt Fonder of the state Department of Revenue and Regulation.
“That is correct,” Fonder said. “Under current law, gas stations can have 15-, 16-year-olds selling alcohol with no one else on the premises.”