Ralliers try to keep Sunday sales issue alive

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Supporters of Sunday package sales of alcohol rallied at the capitol Wednesday in an attempt to keep the issue alive for this session.

Senate Republicans last week, faced with opposition from the religious right, met behind closed doors and declared they would not allow a floor vote this year on SB 10,  which would authorize local communities to vote on the issue of legalizing Sunday package sales.

A crowd of about 50 people held a rally on the capitol steps to express their support for Sunday sales, where they were told by Rep. Roger Williams (R-Dalton) that the House version of the bill, HB 69, could still get a floor vote this session.

“We’re working on it and it is still alive,” Williams said, urging the attendees to contact their state senators and try to persuade them to schedule a vote on the legislation.

“It’s just a thing of fairness,” Williams said.  “How can we allow the sales of alcohol by the drink on Sunday and not sell it by the package?”

The capitol rally featured legislators from both parties who spoke in favor of the Sunday sales measures.

“This is a trans-partisan issue,” said Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Decatur).  “I have heard from Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Tea Partiers who feel the people should have the right to vote on this issue.”

Sen. John Bulloch (R-Ochlocknee), the lead sponsor of SB 10, noted that all of the counties in his southwest Georgia Senate district are dry while the county seats of each county allow alcohol sales.

“Every issue dealing with alcoholic beverages is determined at the local level,” Bulloch said.  “It’s about the people having that right.”

“We’re tired of business as usual, we’re tired of business being conducted behind closed doors,” said Brett Bittner of the Georgia Libertarian Party.

Bittner was referring to the decision made by Senate Republicans to kill SB 10 in a private meeting where a private vote supposedly was taken.  The GOP leaders have refused to even say what the vote tally was, or which senators voted for the measure and which voted against it.

© 2011  by The Georgia Report

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Tags: John Bulloch , Roger Williams , Stephanie Stuckey Benfield , Sunday alcohol sales