HB 979: Repeal prohibition in Mississippi and require a vote for counties to stay dry

By Mississippi Center for Public Policy
February 20, 2020

House Bill 979, sponsored by Rep. Brent Powell, would end the state’s prohibition on alcohol.

Right now, the state has a patchwork system from the 1966 repeal of prohibition because of local control over alcohol sales. The default setting for counties and cities is dry and changing it requires an election.

This bill would change the default status of counties to wet and require an election for a county to become dry once more. Right now, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Revenue, there are 31 counties in the state. Simpson county was the latest county to go from dry to wet after an election last year. Rankin county is the largest "dry" county in the state, though Pearl, Brandon, and Flowood allow liquor by the glass. Beer is available for sale at grocery stores and convenience stores, but liquor stores are prohibited.

This bill would end the requirement for “qualified resort areas” in dry counties where liquor can be served. The Mississippi legislature has to pass a bill for each area and these bills pop up every year. The counties that don’t want to allow the sale of alcohol will still have the option to remain dry.

Mississippi has many laws on the books that restrict alcohol freedom in the state. Perhaps none is more stifling than the current default as a dry state. This bill would provide for economic growth in the numerous dry counties where residents simply cross county lines to purchase alcohol. 

MCPP has reviewed this legislation and finds that it is aligned with our principles and therefore should be supported. 

Read HB 979

Track the status of this bill and all bills in our legislative tracker


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