Political Notes – Another poll shows Sunday sales support


A targeted poll of five state Senate districts represented by Republican lawmakers shows strong support among likely GOP voters for legislation allowing referendums on the Sunday package sales of alcoholic beverages.

The survey, sponsored by the Georgia Food Industry Association, was conducted in the districts of Sens. Judson Hill (R-Marietta), Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), John Crosby (R-Tifton) and Josh McKoon (R-Columbus).

Support for Sunday sales ranged from 58 percent in Crosby’s Middle Georgia district all the way up to 83 percent in Tippins’ suburban Cobb County district.  Crosby’s district was the only one where support for Sunday sales was below the 72 percent level.

Those poll results were disclosed a day after the Schapiro Group of Atlanta released its results of a statewide poll that showed there was 78-18 percent support for the passage of legislation authorizing local governments to hold referendums on the issue of Sunday package sales.

Two bills have been introduced to authorize referendums on Sunday package sales and have already been passed by their respective committees: SB 10 and HB 69.

Neither bill has been scheduled for a floor vote yet.  Easy passage of HB 69 is predicted in the House, but SB 10 could have a more difficult time getting a vote in the more ideologically conservative Senate chamber.

Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) is working behind the scenes to try to kill the Sunday sales bill in the Senate, telling freshman senators that a vote on the legislation will harm them back in their districts.

Shafer was instrumental in killing a 2009 attempt to pass Sunday sales legislation when he sat on the bill in his committee.  When SB 10 was introduced this session by Sen. John Bulloch (R-Ochlocknee), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle pointedly did not assign the bill to Shafer’s committee and instead sent it to the local government committee chaired by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).

Shafer attempted to have SB 10 reassigned to his committee, according to Senate sources, but was rebuffed by Cagle and Bulloch.

Casinos too?

While we’re on the subject of sin taxes, Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) told Morris Newspapers’ ace correspondent Walter C. Jones that he will sponsor a constitutional amendment to authorize casino gambling.

From the Jones report:

He plans to introduce a constitutional amendment toward the end of the current legislative session to open the door to casinos in parts of the state that already draw tourists, designated as Special Entertainment Zones. He suggests places like Jekyll Island, Lake Lanier and Savannah’s Hutchinson Island, home to the Georgia International Trade Center, upscale hotels and a marina for yachts and cruise ships.

Stephens wouldn’t extend the zone to the waterways around Hutchinson Island because he doesn’t want cruise ships to be able to offer their onboard gambling until they’re 3 miles off the Georgia coast. That would leave tourists who like to wager with just the onshore option.

“I want them to have the opportunity to spend their money in Georgia rather than taking their money on the ship and spending it somewhere else,” said Stephens, chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee.

The casinos would play games of the Georgia Lottery, which goes to fund the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K program.

The state constitution already recognizes one Special Entertainment Zone around the Underground Atlanta-Georgia Dome area. His legislation would allow the state to create new ones. His plan builds on a proposal by developers to encourage the Georgia Lottery Corp. to use its existing authority to approve video terminals similar to video poker or slot machines. The developers want the terminals in a casino they want to build near Underground in that entertainment zone.

Revenue employees indicted

Five former revenue department employees – Marcus Britt, Micah Decuir, Billy Evans, William Gladney and John Richardson – have been indicted by a DeKalb County grand jury on numerous charges of financial transaction card fraud.

The indictment alleges that on 17 occasions between December 2007 and March 2008 the defendants obtained gasoline for their personal use by presenting a Wright Express gasoline card without the authorization and permission of the revenue department.  The defendants face the possibility of imprisonment from one to three years on each count.

Judge signs order unsealing Scott’s divorce papers

Tift County Superior Court Judge Bill Reinhardt has signed an order that will require the unsealing of court records related to U.S. Rep. Austin Scott’s divorce.

Scott’s court records became an issue last fall in his congressional race against Democratic incumbent Jim Marshall.  Scott at first opposed the attempt to have his divorce records unsealed, but backed off several weeks after he defeated Marshall in the Nov. 2 general election.

© 2011 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Austin Scott divorce records , David Shafer , Republican senators , revenue department employees , Sunday alcohol sales