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WV Legislature passes ‘Brunch bill’ on final day

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After going back and forth between the House of Delegates and the Senate several times, the so-called “Brunch Bill” was completed by the West Virginia Legislature on Saturday during the last day of the 2016 session.

Although proponents said they are not pleased with the amendments that would require a county-by-county special election option and that would not allow retailers to sell bottles of alcohol to take off the premises, they said they are happy about the passage of the bill as a first step.

Annette Gavin, who has been down at the Capitol several times throughout the 2016 session in support of the Brunch Bill, said she was happy to see the legislation come full circle. Gavin is the CEO of the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I am really thrilled that this bill passed because, in this environment, to get a bill like this to go through committees and then go back and forth the last few days, it’s just fantastic that it went through,” Gavin said in a telephone interview after leaving the Capitol on Saturday afternoon. “I can’t say enough about the supporters and people calling their delegates.”

The Senate cast a concurring vote with unanimous support Saturday morning, and it was then sent to the House for another vote of approval. The House passed the bill with an 82-13 vote having support from every Eastern Panhandle delegate and senator.

Gavin said she was afraid the bill was going to die.

“We got really good support from the entire Panhandle, and I think it shows that they get tourism,” Gavin said. “Without them pushing this bill through the way they have, I don’t believe it would have come out of Roads and Transportation. Everybody worked really, really hard to get this piece of legislation out, and I’m really, truly thrilled. I want to thank everybody on behalf of tourism. It has really made the difference.”

The bill would allow restaurants, private clubs, wineries and distilleries to sell and serve alcohol on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m.

Gavin said she looks forward to the effect the bill is going to have on the Eastern Panhandle and Jefferson County, as she says she is confident it will pass in Jefferson County.

“I think it’s going to be terrific to come back next year and show how incredible the return of the passage of this bill will be, and I think it’s going to be very nice to see that this bill is going to enhance tourism across the state.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk for consideration.

“It’s not the perfect bill, of course, but it’s a really good bill, and it’s a first step,” said Gavin.

For more information on the bill, visit http://bit.ly/20nawh7.

Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or www.twitter.com/emilykdaniels.

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