It was a good day for the Jefferson County local bill yesterday, as it passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 30 to 6. Shortly thereafter it received its 1st Reading in the Senate, which allows it to be passed by the local Senate committee this week and thus get its 2nd Reading in the Senate on Thursday.
Then… it all boils down to what the Senate does on their last day, Tuesday of next week. We have great hopes that they will continue functioning at the minimal level they have been recently and continue passing local bills. If so, get ready for a celebration as all your favorite restaurants, bars, and beer retailers in the metro Birmingham area will start carrying stuff like Terrapin Imperial Pilsner, Celebrator Dopplebock, and Chimay Grand Reserve.
As happy as I will be to see such great beers at the stores near my own home (and I will be very, very happy, I assure you), I will take just as much satisfaction in knowing that Jefferson County will become undeniable, unignorable, unequivocal proof that all the baseless fears of the anti-alcohol opposition were completely without merit, and their arguments will have much more difficulty finding a legislative ear willing to listen when we once again introduce a statewide bill in 2008. Jefferson County’s success in legalizing better beer will just be the prelude to the whole state following.
But I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch. It’s not a done deal. And if this session has taught me anything, it’s that the Alabama Senate is completely unpredictable. Unless your prediction is that they will keep fighting amongst themselves and remain hopelessly locked in a power struggle. That one’s pretty safe. But we can’t assume they will keep passing local bills in these last couple of days. Keep your eye on them.
One more note, we had hoped Mobile and Baldwin County local bills would pass committee yesterday, but they didn’t. They do still have a chance this session. I will have more to report on their status later today.