A group calling itself the Dry Counties Coalition is criticizing the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board because that group has been following the law in granting liquor permits to private clubs.
There are 42 dry counties in Arkansas, but you can buy a drink in all but nine of them by going to a private club. Legislation passed in 1969 allowed country clubs and groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars to sell alcohol in dry counties. The law was changed in 2003 to expand the types of groups that could qualify for the special permits. The Dry Counties Coalition claims that the new law is too open and allows restaurants to obtain the permits. One county has seen 120 of these special permits granted.
Attempts to change the 2003 law have failed three times in the past. Supporters of the permits say the 2003 has helped revitalize downtowns and attracted businesses and jobs to these counties.