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Bill aims to ease liquor law

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Adding a twist to blue laws in an increasingly red state, North Carolina's Republican-led Legislature is toasting a measure intended to keep the booze flowing at the Democratic National Convention.

President Obama and other Democratic Party headliners are set to be in Charlotte for the nominating convention, which kicks off with a Labor Day party. The state's government-run liquor stores are closed Sundays and for the Monday holiday, presenting a potential problem for bars, restaurants and hotels needing to replenish depleted alcohol stocks.

The convention is expected to draw tens of thousands of people who will spend millions on food and libations.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers in Raleigh sponsoring a bill to keep the Alcoholic Beverage Control stores in Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, open for Labor Day 2012. Co-sponsored by Charlotte-area Republicans and Democrats, the measure flowed through the state House last week on a voice vote and is awaiting approval in the Senate.

Rep. Bill Brawley, a Mecklenburg Republican, said helping Charlotte be fully prepared to quench the thirsts of the arriving politicos and media people is just good manners.

"The political party of the people attending is not material," said Brawley, one of the bill's primary sponsors. "Our state will treat them the way we would want our own people to be treated when they visit other states."

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, who has frequently clashed with the Republicans who took control of the General Assembly two years ago, said she would sign the bill into law.

"This legislation helps North Carolina be a good host," said Perdue, who is co-chair of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.

With the exception of Sunday mornings, beer and wine can be bought from retail stores and wholesalers. But distilled spirits such as whiskey, gin and vodka are available only at ABC stores or warehouses operated by local governments and regulated by the state.

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