CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia legislators couldn’t help but think about the state’s tourism industry today as the state Capitol’s hallways and rotunda were filled with informational tables and displays.
Tourism industry officials are seeking legislative support for their “brunch bills” — SB 21, SB 298 and SB 307, now pending in the Senate Economic Development Committee, and HB 2803 and HB 2804, now pending in the House Judiciary Committees — and effort to allow alcohol sales earlier on Sundays. The bills call for a serving and sale time of 10:30 a.m. for private clubs, wineries, farm wineries, distilleries and mini-distilleries.
Currently, local restaurants can offer a weekend menu that combines breakfast and lunch. But before 1 p.m. on Sundays, none of them can be served with traditional brunch beverages like bloody marys or mimosas. Current law states that restaurants, private clubs, distilleries and wineries cannot serve or sell alcohol to customers until then.
Today is Tourism Day at the Capitol and industry leaders were meeting with lawmakers to share their views and network. “We have local, statewide and national support on this,” said Carol Fulks, executive director of the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association. “It’s our number one priority this year.”
Many brunch bill supporters look to neighboring states as an example. Ohio, Pennsylvania, cities in Kentucky and Virginia, and counties in Maryland have passed laws to allow early sales on Sundays. Georgia has a similar bill pending before its legislative body. For years, “blue laws” prohibited the sale of wine or liquor on Sundays. In West Virginia, “off-premise” liquor sales are still prohibited on Sunday. Grocery and convenience stores can sell wine and beer, but not until 1 p.m.
Photos from Tourism Day at the Legislature 2016