Farish Street liquor exemption passes

Published 1:19 am Friday, July 4, 2008

It took two votes Thursday for the Mississippi Senate to pass a liquor-law exemption for a downtown Jackson entertainment district.

A bill failed by one vote the first time it was brought up, but got exactly the number it needed to pass a short time later.

There was no debate before the second vote, so there was no explanation about why the vote total changed.

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The bill is designed to speed up development in the Farish Street district by creating an exemption so some restaurants there could be licensed to sell liquor.

State law says a restaurant selling liquor must be at least 100 feet from a school, church or funeral home. Some buildings on Farish Street are too close to the Mississippi College School of Law.

Developers said the distance was not a problem until the private Baptist college did some campus renovations.

The House passed the bill Wednesday shortly after Gov. Haley Barbour added it to a special session agenda.

The bill eventually will go to Barbour, but a senator objected Thursday to letting it move immediately to the governor’s desk. Some conservative lawmakers said they object to allowing liquor sales close to a Christian school’s campus.

The bill is House Bill 21.