BY ANITA LEE
The "go cup" bill passed the Mississippi House on Thursday morning, meaning if Gov. Phil Bryant signs off on it, Coast cities can set up entertainment districts where people can walk from one business to another with alcoholic beverages.
The bill got hung up in "political gamesmanship" over a different bill, state Sen. Sean Tindell of Gulfport said. The Senate approved the bill before adjourning its session Wednesday, but the House held it on a motion to reconsider.
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The bill allows Coast cities and about a dozen other localities to set up the entertainment districts.
Gulfport leaders were particularly eager to see the bill passed because they want an entertainment district where pedestrians can drink and stroll through a downtown revitalized after Hurricane Katrina, filled with new restaurants and bars.
The law is particularly important, Gulfport Councilman Rusty Walker said, for the city's Fishbone Alley being built between 26th and 27th avenues. Restaurants and bars are creating openings to the lighted alley, where pedestrians will be able to stroll past vertical landscaping and artwork. The alley is patterned after the popular Printer's Alley in Nashville.
Walker said the city's Planning Commission will be involved in establishing the downtown district. He said the entire Coast delegation was behind the bill and pushed hard to see it passed.
The bill also could give a boost to Second Saturday in downtown Bay St. Louis, where participants like to drink and walk from one shop to another. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board put a stop to the practice in August because merchants were giving away wine without permits. Though the bill won't allow merchants to give away drinks without licenses, an entertainment district would permit ABC-licensed establishments to serve alcohol to go.