The staff editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Murray State News.
The debate over alcohol sales in Murray is indeed over with the July 17th vote to legalize packaged liquor sales within the city of Murray. Though the measure had been debated extensively before and brought to a vote prior to last month’s referendum, the people of Murray have, for the first time, voted to authorize packaged liquor sales within city limits.
We would like to congratulate the city of Murray for making the right decision. In voting to legalize packaged liquor sales, the city of Murray has set itself on a road toward economic growth and job creation. The increased tax revenues generated from liquor sales will allow for an improvement in city services, if not an expansion in their size or scope.
In congratulating the city of Murray, we would also like to make clear that although the debate over alcohol sales might be over, there is still an important debate going forward over what should and shouldn’t be allowed under the new policy. As this paper goes to print, members of the City Council draw up the liquor ordinances that will govern packaged liquor sales.
In doing so, we encourage the City Council to make choices that reflect the will of the voters while also ensuring public safety. Although the effect of legalized packaged liquor sales on crime is tenuous at best, we should not allow alcohol-related crime to run rampant, nor should we adopt a hands-off policy concerning underage drinking.
The wet vote has been successful in large part because of the promise of economic growth and job creation in Murray, but now that Murray is officially wet, we have to keep it that way by making sure that laws against illegal alcohol use are observed and applied fairly.
To that end, with the heated debate over, we should not only accept the will of the voters of Murray, but actively seek to minimize any potential complications that would come with legalized package liquor sales in Murray. Murray can find common cause in making sure that crime and underage drinking do not reach problem levels in Murray going forward.
We understand that this has been a heated issue for many and a very emotional one for some. With the change in the law we believe that Murray can not only unite around the increased revenue and economic expansion that will result from packaged liquor sales, but also around a message that abusing this change in the law will not be tolerated.
Anytime we see an advertisement for alcohol on television, we are always reminded to “drink responsibily.” With the first hurdle passed, we have to make an effort to ensure that drinking responsibly isn’t just an advertising pitch, but a reality.