Archived Opinion

Brunch Bill is about better business, not religion

Brunch Bill is about better business, not religion

It’s one of those issues that garner headlines and controversy but really shouldn’t.

I’m talking about the Brunch Bill, the law passed by the state legislature that allows businesses to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday if they want. Many municipalities and counties around the state have supported the law, deciding to let local businesses make that decision for themselves.

Many small businesses — in this case, restaurants — are trying to find ways to stay competitive. A few more hours a week of selling alcohol may not sound like a big deal, but for some business owners it will make the difference as to whether they can turn a profit on Sunday brunch. If they can, that means more people working, more taxes paid and a small boost to the overall economy.

And when surrounding communities like Sylva, Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Franklin, Highlands and Bryson City have passed the measure, it puts Cashiers at a distinct disadvantage. Cashiers is not a real municipality, so its fate on this issue rests with county commissioners. Its business community has spoken on this issue via a chamber of commerce survey, and 96.4 percent are in favor of its passage. That’s an overwhelming majority.

Speakers at a recent county commission hearing argued against the measure based on the problems alcohol causes in many families. No one should downplay that truth, that alcohol abuse does cause social and family ills. But that’s like saying McDonald’s contributes to obesity and health problems, so let’s shut down McDonald’s, or that Walmart’s cheap shoes contribute to child labor abuse in the factories in Indonesia or China, so shut down Walmart.

Those who abuse alcohol won’t be affected in the least bit by this bill. No one is going to start opening their bar at 10 on Sunday morning. We’re talking about people who want to have something to drink while eating out for brunch or an early Sunday lunch. You can get alcohol until 2 a.m. and in the early morning hours every other day of the week. There may be some feel-good symbolism about not selling it while church is in on Sunday morning, but it is just a flawed argument for anyone to claim that alcohol abuse — a problem that has been around thousands of years — will increase by selling cocktails a few hours earlier on Sunday morning. 

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Just to be clear, I thought those who attended the recent meeting in Sylva and questioned whether commissioners were Christians stepped over a line. Calling out someone’s Christianity is, well, very un-Christian-like. So, everyone who supports giving businesses the freedom to sell alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. is not a Christian? Please. Agree or disagree on this issue, but elected commissioners don’t deserve that kind of treatment. What’s the line, something like “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”?

Jackson County’s business community will benefit from this measure. I hope county commissioners realize that and help them out by passing it.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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