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Some local liquor laws across Texas may be shaken up after Election Day

 Voters in several cities across Texas will consider ballot items to expand alcohol sales.
Lynn Friedman via Flickr
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Voters in several cities across Texas will consider ballot items to expand alcohol sales.

City and county governments have a lot of control over local alcohol ordinances in Texas, including in the Panhandle.

Sundays are generally super busy at Wimpy’s Beer and Wine in Moore County, a rural area of the Panhandle north of Amarillo.

“Oh my gosh, at our store cars are lined up for like three or four blocks to get in and get their beer [on Sunday],” said Donna Ditzler, whose family owns Wimpy’s and two other stores that sell alcohol in Moore County.

Wimpy’s is so busy on Sundays because it sits just outside Dumas, the county seat. It’s currently illegal to buy beer or wine in Dumas on Sundays. But there’s a proposition on the ballot to change that, which could cut into the Ditzlers’ bottom line.

“If this passes, then everybody in Dumas can sell it on Sunday. And so that will really affect us,” Ditzler said.

Dumas is one of several cities in Texas where voters will decide whether to change local alcohol laws on Election Day. In Texas, rules on what liquor can be sold when can change through an election, if a citizen collects enough signatures of registered voters who say they want such a measure to appear on the ballot.

In the northeast part of the Panhandle, voters in Canadian are weighing whether to allow all kinds of alcohol sales. Voters in Friona face the same decision. People in Post will decide the fate of retail wine and beer. And in Paradise – a town of about 600 residents 45 minutes northwest of Fort Worth – a proposition to sell retail wine, beer and liquor is on the ballot. At the moment, you can’t get any of that inside the city limits.

“We are the only dry spot in Wise county, and we’re only two square miles,” said Amanda Black, the mayor of Paradise.

Black supports city retailers selling alcohol. It’s one of the items she campaigned on, and she helped put together the petition needed to get the proposition on the ballot. Being the only dry city in a wet county just doesn’t make sense, she says.

“We are heavily dependent on sales tax revenue. We got a Dollar General, and that has been a big boon for our revenue,” she said. “And the more you can get in sales tax, the less you need to get in property tax. And everyone’s a fan of keeping their property taxes low.”

Paradise has grown a lot since the pandemic, as people have left the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a slower, cheaper style of living. The additional tax revenue would help manage that growth.

Black is fairly confident that the measure will pass. Back in Moore County, Ditzler is unsure whether the Dumas proposition will carry the day or not. Past attempts have failed thanks to the local faith community.

“The Baptists have always kept it from passing before. So I don’t know,” Ditzler said.

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Copyright 2022 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Michael Marks