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Decision on beer hours will be up to commission

While some county commissioners would like to see a referendum on extending beer sales hours, it appears the commission will have to decide the matter if it is addressed.
While some businesses in the county have asked the commission to authorize 24-7 beer sales to even the playing field after the City of Smithville extended hours recently, County Attorney Hilton Conger told the mayor and commissioners Monday night that a referendum was not possible.
Officials have said that the commission may discuss scheduling a public hearing to give locals a chance to voice their opinions on the matter.
The commissioners has also expressed an interest in waiting to see how the new the city hours affect things.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. issued an opinion in 2009 in as to whether the Hamilton County Commission could hold a referendum to determine voter’s feelings on the Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007.
In his report Cooper opined that, “There is no general provision in the constitution of this state that authorizes a local government to hold an advisory or non-binding referendum election.”
The County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) holds that, “The power to extend the hours for the sale of beer must be exercised by resolution of the county legislative body,” making a referendum effectively pointless.
The present statute concerning beer sales hours in the county allows no beer to be sold between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Monday-Saturday, or between midnight on Saturday and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.


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