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18 December 2008

Sunday Alcohol Sales Is All About Local Control

During the 2007 legislative session, state Sen. Seth Harp (R - Midland) introduced Senate Bill 137, a bill that would allow each county or city in Georgia to decide by referendum whether to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays. The legislation saw little action from the state Senate and eventually died in committee, but that hasn't deterred Harp's support of the issue.

He plans on reintroducing the bill when the legislature convenes in January.

Harp argues that while state tax revenues have declined, dollars from the alcohol excise tax has increased by 1.8 percent.

"I can think of millions of reasons why it would be attractive this year," the Republican from Midland said, referring to the millions of dollars in additional tax revenues supporters estimate Sunday sales would yield in Georgia. [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Economy could revitalize Sunday alcohol fight", December 18, 2008]

New revenue from the approval of Sunday alcohol sales could help stave off the deep budget cuts that are expected in the budget, but this issue has always been about local control.

Local control over the local issue of Sunday alcohol sales.

If Sen. Harp's bill passes, each county or municipality in this state would have to answer the following question:

Shall the governing authority [...] be authorized to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of malt beverages and wine for any period of time on Sundays from 12:00 Noon until 12:00 Midnight?

After a vigorous campaign for and against the referendum, the people would decide what is best for them.

If a majority of the voters in Fulton County say yes, then Sunday alcohol sales would be legal in that county. If a majority of voters in Houston County say no, then Sunday alcohol sales would remain prohibited.

Not surprisingly, the Christian Coalition vows to fight Sunday alcohol sales as they have done for the past two years, and more than likely, legislative leaders will bow to their wishes.

Jason Pye says that Georgia politicians simply don't have the balls to pass it [Source: Jason Pye.com, "Sunday sales is back". December 17, 2008].

And he's right.