I am two things if nothing else: 1. I am legally old enough to drink. 2. I am tired of driving to Coffee City for beer. It's 2012. Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It's been 79 years since it was repealed because we, as a nation, realized 79 years ago it was a bad idea. So, why nearly 80 years later, does every other county in Texas still cling to their own convoluted forms of Prohibition?

Perhaps it's because there are some who feel it's their job to protect us from ourselves. To them, I say thanks. Now go worry about yourself. In this country, if you're over the age of 21 it is legal to drink alcohol, period. That's law. So, why the need to micro-legislate after that?

Well, thanks to a local group calling themselves the "Buy Local First" Committee, this may all be changing. From Dave Goldman and the KNUE Newsroom:

The “Buy Local First” Committee, which was introduced during a news conference today, will be asking residents in Tyler and Smith County Justice Precinct 2 to sign a petition calling for a local option election this November that would include the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only, and to expand the current legal sale of alcohol in restaurants in all of JP 2, which includes southwestern Tyler, Flint and Bullard.

According to the Buy-Local-First website there are many economic benefits:

  • Recoup lost revenues. Grocers report for every $1 lost in beer and wine sales, they lose an additional $3 in other sales. This could be as much as $25,000 to $150,000 per week in lost sales, which also means lost tax revenue for the community. The range is affected by store size and location, but with several major retail stores such Walmart and Brookshire’s, this can be a very substantial loss for Tyler.
  • Cut Bureaucratic Costs. The Texas Restaurant Association reports in order for restaurants to maintain a “private club” status, it can cost as much as $20,000 per year and does not create one job or create sales tax revenue.
  • Create More Jobs. Retail grocery and convenience stores will increase sales, thus increasing the need for more cashiers, stockers and other employees to handle the increase volume in business.
  • Sales Tax Revenue Uses.  Sales tax revenue for the city and county can be used to pay for police, fire, parks, roads and other quality of life issues.  Cities/counties that cannot raise enough money to meet their budgets with sales tax are often forced to raise property taxes.
  • Property Tax Revenue Increases.  School districts and other entities that rely on property tax revenues benefit as more businesses come to an area as a result of changing these laws.

And if your concerned about alcohol sales and a correlating increase in crime and drinking and driving fatalities, consider this:

  • The Dallas Morning News, Lubbock Avalanche Journal and the Tyler Morning Telegraph have done extensive news coverage of what has happened after communities have voted.  In a recent TMT story, several professional law enforcement officials showed statistics proving legalizing alcohol sales did not increase crime and in some cases, crime even went down.
  • The Lufkin Daily News reported in 2006 that Texas Counties that are “dry” had 3 times the number of fatal alcohol related accidents than “wet” counties.
  • According to National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the Texas alcohol related highway fatalities have dropped nearly 19% since 2003—even though our population grew by more than 3 million people.

Click here to explore the Buy Local First website and read about it for yourself. Keep up with them on Facebook here.

If you're still not convinced ask yourself this: "Is it OK for my beliefs, wrong as the may be, to govern other people's legal freedom?" If you're answer is "Yes," don't sign the petition and vote against it when/if it hits the ballot in November.

But as for me, I will sign the petition and I will vote for it. Not only will it help our local businesses and economy, but as an American adult over the age of 21, it is my legal right.