South Carolina drinkers are closer to being able to buy more beer at breweries and purchase liquor on Election Day, but they likely will not be able to get powdered alcohol for at least a year.
The General Assembly approved a bill Wednesday expanding brewery sales and allowing Election Day alcohol sales.
The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a compromise aimed at attracting California-based Stone Brewing, which wants to open a brewery on the East Coast that possibly includes a restaurant.
Lexington, Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Greenville have made pitches for the brewery. State economic-development officials visited the company this week.
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However, Stone has not decided on where it will open an East Coast brewery.
“While we applaud the legislation in South Carolina and any like it, this necessary element is but one of many factored into our decision-making laid out in our request for proposals,” Stone spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo said.
If Gov. Nikki Haley signs the brewery bill, South Carolina also will no longer remain the only state banning alcohol sales on Election Day.
The Election Day bill formally bans alcohol sales on Christmas Day, though most liquor stores are not open on the holiday.
Haley’s office did not indicate if the governor would sign the bill.
In a separate measure, lawmakers’ efforts to ban powdered alcohol sales stalled after some senators objected, saying they did not want to restrict business. While federal regulators have not approved powered alcohol sales, sponsors of the state bill said they wanted to avoid any problems before sales begin.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, the ban’s main sponsor, agreed to limiting the ban to one year to overcome the objections.
The year-long powdered alcohol ban passed unanimously.
The temporary ban was tacked onto a bill that already has passed the S.C. House. That proposal would allow restaurants to sell alcohol close to playgrounds and churches if playground and church operators agree.
Current laws prevent the state from issuing alcohol licenses within certain distances of schools, playgrounds and churches.