Texas side may vote to buy beer and wine in its own state


Texarkana, Ark., is the only place in town to purchase beer and wine for off-premise consumption. But that could change in November if voters decide to adopt a ballot measure to allow the Texas side of town to also do the same, thereby collecting sales tax revenue like the Arkansas side does now.

Petitions are circulating for Texarkana, Texas, and Wake Village, Texas, to be able to sell beer and wine at places such as grocery stores and gas stations. If both cities receive the signatures of 35 percent of the voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election, which was in November 2010, the issues will be placed on each city’s ballot in November.

Beer and wine drinksTo be clear, if the measure passes in November, it would not allow liquor stores to be opened. Instead, beer and wine would be sold in various gas stations and grocery stores. Still, liquor store owners on the Arkansas side of town are not happy about the whole idea and believe if the measure passes in November it will hurt their businesses. But others, like John Hatch of Texas Petition Strategies, believe there’s room enough for everyone to make money.

Texas Petition Strategies has been contracted to conduct the local option alcohol efforts in Texarkana and Wake Village. Those petitions must be turned in by July 11 for the item to appear on the November ballot.

Hatch also conducted the Nash, Texas, effort to sell beer and wine in that town. Nash legalized the sale of beer and wine last November and began selling those products Dec. 31, 2013.

“We conducted the Nash local option effort and are so excited for their community. The effect has been exactly what we predicted, and a crushing blow to the opposition. Sales tax revenues are up over 56 percent – possibly more than $200,000 this year, and crime has gone unchanged,” Hatch said.

Actually, that’s not exactly true. Crime has dropped in Nash.

“We have actually had a reduction in crime since Nash began selling beer and wine,” said Detective Michael Sutton with the Nash Police Department. “

Before beer and wine sales ever went into effect, the City of Nash had five DWIs and one DWI-related accident for a total of six DWI-related offenses from Jan. 1, 2013 to July 1, 2013, according to police records.

Since beer and wine sales began in Dec. 31, 2013, the police department shows three public intoxications from Jan. 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014. However, since beer and wine sales began, there have been zero DWIs.

“Property crime is down and theft is down, too,” said Detective Sutton. “It doesn’t surprise us because my Chief did a poll and contacted 15 agencies similar to ours. Of all the agencies, none had an increase in crime. None had an increase in homelessness. None had an increase in petty crimes, or serious alcohol-related crimes,” he said.

Hatch said his agency has been contracted to work in Texarkana and in Wake Village. The opposition, he noted, has hired the same Arkansas consultant who conducted the 2006 and 2011 Texarkana efforts and the Nash effort, “which was virtually funded exclusively by the Arkansas liquor stores and beer distributors,” he said.

“In 2011, their battle cry was how harmful alcohol is to a community, which is a bizarre message considering it was paid for by liquor stores and beer distributors. You can see by some of the current comments the group is going back to the argument that Texans should vote ‘no’ because it hurts Arkansas. But Arkansas doesn’t pay to fill the potholes on the Texas side. They don’t pay for our police officers, fire trucks or EMS personnel.

“The claim is we are supposed to be a ‘unified’ Texarkana. We agree. And if the Arkansas side can sell beer and wine, we should be unified and let Texas sell beer and wine, too.”

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