By the slimmest of margins, the House today approved a bill that the religious conservative Family Council decried as a “public drinking bill.” The vote was 51-19, with a hefty 30 voting present or not voting at all.

SB 492 passed the Senate earlier, 23-8, but must return for approval of an amendment and the Family Council is calling on its church forces to turn up the heat.

This bad bill lets cities and municipalities in wet counties designate certain areas as “entertainment districts,” where alcohol can be carried and consumed publicly on streets and sidewalks.

Under any other circumstances, the kind of behavior that occurs in an entertainment district would be considered public drinking or public intoxication — both of which are illegal. Right now, the closest places to Arkansas where you’re going to find this kind of activity are Beale Street in Memphis or Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

If S.B. 492 becomes law, public drinking could come to communities like yours

Lead sponsor is Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado). The Murphy Arts District in his hometown presumably could be helped. But the bill has other sponsors, including from Fayetteville and Little Rock. Cities could notify the Alcohol Beverage Control of either temporary or permanent designations of entertainment areas where drinks could be consumed outside of premises of licensed businesses.