If a person wants to petition alcohol sales in the Lubbock city limits, he or she has 60 days to collect about 16,000 names of registered voters. That's the process Mayor Marc McDougal wants state lawmakers to throw out so the issue of sales can be brought to the voters and put to rest.
"It's not an issue we're going to spend any money on, or time. But I do feel like, based on the number of phone calls and e-mails that we've had, in order to be responsive to the citizens we ought to check in to what can be done to allow the citizens to vote on the issue," said Mayor McDougal.
The Mayor is lending a soft ear to a divisive issue. Alcohol sales in the city limits have been debated for years. Nothing has been done about it and now, the Mayor says its time to take it to the voters. "Bottom line. That's the only way this is going to get resolved," he said.
But there is a process before citizens can vote on it. Someone has to petition the change, collect thousands of signatures. It's a state law, one that the Mayor says is nearly impossible to accomplish. "Its almost like the law is written to where this is an item that can never come before voters," he said.
The city council voted in favor of asking state lawmakers and lobbyist if the mandated petition process can be thrown out. Councilman Tom Martin says that is wrong. He and Councilman Gary Boren voted against the idea. Both feel the petition is a protection.. "The community is not interested in that. All petition drives that have been tried over the years would have been successful," says Martin.
Roger Settler recently started a petition for the sale of beer and wine in a portion of the city. He says even then, it's been a difficult task. "I'm delighted (about the council's decision), I think its something the legislators should have long since looked into. I'm not as confident it might pass the legislature with a lot of religious pressures," said Settler.
NewsChannel 11 spoke with State Representative Delwin Jones. He says that lawmakers may consider a bracketed bill which means the state would change the law if it was framed to only effect Lubbock. The resolution to present this to state lawmakers will go before the council November 18th.