Sunday alcohol sales effort screeches to halt

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imageState lawmakers appear poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and allow yet another effort to allow Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor sales at stores to fail.

What happened? Christian conservatives hell bent on not allowing citizens to vote. Guess they only want that to happen when it concerns gay marriage.

Georgia is one of three states that ban Sunday sales and lawmakers were steamrolling toward rectifying that this legislation session with uncharacteristic speed. Even a poll of GOP voters showed support for the measure, which would allow local jurisdictions to vote on allowing Sunday sales. Another poll from lesbian-owned Schapiro Group showed that 78 percent of people polled support the opportunity to vote on Sunday sales with at least two-thirds of every demographic group supporting an option for a local vote.

“Voters are expressing a strong desire to have a say on this matter,” Beth Schapiro, president of Schapiro Group, says in a prepared statement about the poll. “Some may not want alcohol sold on Sundays in their own communities, but they definitely want to make that decision themselves.”

In other words, Republican senators wouldn’t get booted from office for approving the measure. Just don’t tell legislators that the gays want the measure, too.

But Christian conservatives, sidelined early in the Sunday sales process, have awakened. And they are pissed that they were overlooked and apparently upset that lawmakers assumed they would support actually allowing Joe Six Pack to vote on something like Sunday sales. After all, it was Christian conservatives that successfully pushed lawmakers in 2004 to put on the ballot a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Note that it was already illegal in Georgia.

In the calculations of the state’s religious zealots, it’s OK to allow voters to decide the fate of same-sex marriage. But it’s not OK to allow those same folks to vote on whether they want to buy beer at Kroger on Sundays.

Irony aside, the religious right has rallied and is lining up GOP senators to vote against the Sunday sales legislation.

Senate Republicans, though, could come to their senses on Wednesday. That’s when they caucus privately to decided if the Sunday sales legislation has a future. This might be the one instance in which it’s OK to root for the Republicans.

“If we don’t have a majority of our senators in favor of it, then we’re not going to bring it to the floor,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, who supplied the second signature on SB 10. “If the caucus is for it, it’s going to come to the floor.”

UPDATE: Republican senators may hold an informal vote on Sunday sales legislation as soon as Wednesday.


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