Friday, January 12, 2007
Blue Law Battle: Georgia Considers Sunday Sales Bill
Things could get interesting in the Georgia Legislature this session. This week state Sen. Seth Harp introduced a bill that would give local municipalities the right to allow beer and wine to be sold on Sundays at grocery and convenience stores.
Georgia is one of only three states that ban sales of alcohol for off-premise consumption on Sunday. If you decide on having a barbecue or friends over to watch a game, you had better plan ahead. I ran afoul of this law a few years back when we were visiting friends in Atlanta. Our gracious hosts made our stay very enjoyable. My only issue was that the beer in their refrigerator started and stopped with Corona Light and we planned to watch the Daytona 500. I made what I thought was going to be a beer run to a nearby grocery. I was amazed when I put a Sunday newspaper and a six pack of a local microbrew on the checkout counter, only to see the clerk grab the beer and stash it under the counter. It was 11:55 a.m. so I asked if they only sold alcohol after noon on Sunday. That got a laugh from the clerk who said "Welcome to Georgia."
The debate in the Georgia Legislature will be fueled on one side by grocery and convenience store lobbyists, with support from brewers and wineries. Opposing the bill will be the Georgia Christian Alliance, some neo-Prohibitionist groups and an unlikely backer -- liquor stores, because they are left out of the mix.
If Sen. Harp's bill passes, residents in each county would be given the right to vote on whether to allow Sunday sales. A poll commissioned by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that 68 percent of state residents support the legislation. Even if the elected representative follow the will of the people, the bill might not get past the desk of Gov. Sonny Perdue, a teetotaler.