Attorney Pushes for Statewide Alcohol Sales

BRYANT, AR -- For the first time in the state's history a Central Arkansas attorney is attempting to legalize alcohol sales in one election. Right now 37 counties are dry and as of the 2012 election 38 are wet. The state brings in $55 million a year in taxes from alcohol sales. Attorney David Couch is trying to double that.

"Customers from Saline county are happy that we're here, we're right on the border," says Glenn Crippen, manager at Pit Stop Grill along I-30. Crippen says he hears similar comments from customers grabbing a beer at his bar on the way home, knowing their options to buy booze dry up once they cross county lines.

"It's backward, prohibition is long gone," says Shelli Russell. It's a law Russell has been fighting to change in Saline County for years. "The issue comes up someone says, why I can't I get a six pack on the corner so I can watch the game," she says. Voters in Clark County approved going wet in 2010, but Russell has struggled to follow in their footsteps. She says one of the major barriers is counties need 38 percent of registered voters to sign a petition and make it on the ballot.

Attorney David Couch is trying another more simple route by making it a statewide issue. "It's an economic boom for counties that are dry now they will be able to get tax revenue to keep money local in those counties, safety wise and economics, making counties wet is the right thing to do," says Couch. He would only need 10 percent of people who voted in the last governor's election somewhere around 78,000 people and less than the top three counties combined would need to get the issue on the ballot.

Even though it could cost some smaller stores, Russell and Crippen hope he'll succeed, saying it could save money across the board. The Attorney General's office rejected Couch's ballot title Tuesday but he plans to resubmit Thursday. State law states here can be one liquor store per 5000 people and we could see 800 more places to buy alcohol if this passes.

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