Sunday sales hitting a Senate roadblock

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Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said Monday that even with strong public support behind it, a bill allowing local referendums on Sunday package sales of alcohol (SB 10) may not get a floor vote in the Georgia Senate.

SB 10 was quickly approved by a Senate committee early in the session and appeared to have the momentum for passage when Gov. Nathan Deal said he would not veto the legislation.

But the bill may not move any further because some conservative Senate Republicans are afraid to go against the wishes of the Christian Coalition and other fundamentalist groups that have long opposed allowing local communities to vote on alcoholic beverage issues.

“The legislative process still has to take place and unless there are enough votes for it, it won’t happen,” Rogers said Monday at his weekly news conference.

Rogers is one of the co-sponsors of SB 10 but said he was not sure if there would be enough votes in the full Senate for it to pass.

“I have no idea,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.  “We have not done a whip count.  There’s no sense in bringing a bill to the floor if there aren’t enough votes for it.”

Rogers said SB 10 is still in the Rules Committee, which sets the calendar for floor debate, and has not yet “had a full caucus discussion” by the Senate’s Republican members.

Unless a majority of Senate Republicans indicate they will vote for the bill, it will not go on the calendar for a floor vote, he said.  “That’s true of all bills,” Rogers added.

Since the session started in January, several public polls have shown strong support among Georgians for the passage of Sunday sales legislation.

The House of Representatives has introduced its own version of a Sunday sales bill, HB 69, and is expected to approve that measure through a floor vote.

Like SB 10, HB 69 would authorize local governments that already allow the package sale of beer, wine or liquor to hold a referendum on making those sales legal on Sundays as well.

© 2011  by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Christian Coalition , Senate opposition , Sunday alcohol sales