City beer law OK, attorney says

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lewisburg's law on beer permits doesn't have to be changed to authorize beer sales and service at a China Wok, a restaurant near Food Lion, according to the city attorney.

Changing the law was an idea suggested by Councilor Robin Minor, a member of the Beer Board that declined to act when it met Sept. 1 and reviewed an application from Mei Liana Xiao, 40, of 5th Avenue, proprietor of China Wok.

Xiao's application for a permit to sell beer with meals shows that he has a 10-year work visa. That makes him a resident alien, not an illegal alien.

State law works the way Lewisburg's law should be applied, according to City Attorney Bill Haywood who obtained a copy of a state attorney general's opinion cited here on Sept. 4 by Danielle Elks, executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. She said, barring other disqualifying factors, Xiao could get a state permit to sell mixed drinks and wine, including sake.

It's because he's a resident alien with a work permit and is not an illegal alien.

The attorney general's opinion "says resident aliens should not be prohibited because they fall under the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment (guaranteeing equal treatment under the law) and we can't discriminate against them as long as their resident aliens," Haywood said Tuesday.

"The thing is, our ordinance is good because it basically says if you're an illegal alien, then you're not entitled to a beer permit," Haywood said. "We can discriminate against illegal aliens. They're not protected under the Tennessee or the U.S. Constitution, as far as the 14th Amendment is concerned."

Therefore, Lewisburg's law doesn't need to be changed, he said.

"Our ordinance is a negative thing," Haywood explained. "If you are this, you don't get a permit, but if you are legal under a work permit, then you do."

Typically, Lewisburg Beer Board meetings are scheduled when there's business for the panel.