Residents Start Alcohol Petition in Alaska

At present, alcohol importation is restricted within Bethel and residents are assembling a petition in an effort to allow open sales of wine, beer and alcohol in one of the largest cities in Western Alaska.  The law impedes alcohol sales and the community is hoping that their petition will overturn this ruling.

It has been more than thirty years since the inhabitants of Bethel have been able to open bars and liquor stores and for the petition to be victorious, voters would also have to give it their approval.  The law originally came into effect in 1977 when the residents of Bethel voted 3 to 1 that alcohol should be limited and they became one of the 19th "damp" communities within Alaska.

"Dry" and "Damp"

Areas are able to vote to be completely "dry" of alcohol or "damp" which means they are limited to a monthly allowance.

Some of the campaigners have stated that this is not their overall intention and that they are just fed up of the State preventing them from being able to import as much alcohol as they would like.  The Public Safety and Transportation Commission are not convinced and have declared that it seems like a bad idea.  Mark Springer, the Chairman is concerned that children will have more access to alcohol and is worried about levels of violence, suicides and teenage pregnancies rising should this petition be accepted.

Problems

Many of the communities within Alaska have also voted for these types of laws as there is an on-going problem with alcohol abuse within this country. 

For the petition to succeed, it has to gather signatures from either 35 percent of voters from the last election or 271 registered voters and this needs to be completed within 90 days.
 
Many residents are angry at the legislation and others feel it should continue.  The people of Bethel, over 6,000 of them, continue to be divided in their opinions.

Alaska

Populated by almost 700,000 people, Alaska is the largest state of the USA covering approximately 580,000 miles separated into boroughs.