Ga. senate votes to loosen laws on some alcohol sales
Larger stadiums, limo drivers would be affected
ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate on Tuesday voted to let larger stadiums sell beer on Sundays and let limousine drivers offer their passengers cocktails.
Lawmakers didn’t take up a hotly debated measure that would pave the way for grocery and convenience stores to sell six- packs on the Sabbath. That measure was bottled up in a Senate committee last session. But a key supporter of the Sunday sales bill said that strong Senate support for the two booze bills on Tuesday gives the effort fresh momentum.
Sen. Seth Harp voted for the pair of alcohol measures on Tuesday as a proxy for the larger issue of Sunday sales.
“ Make no distinction, this is a vote for the expansion of Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia,” Harp, a Republican from Midland, said.
Harp tried to push a Sunday sales bill through the Senate last year but fell victim to a vigorous lobbying campaign by Georgia’s Christian conservatives. His bill would allow local communities to vote on whether to give stores the option sell alcohol on Sunday.
It has strong support from the business community. Executives with the state’s largest grocery store chains say their customers have been clamoring for the change. Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week, especially for harried families with both parents working.
Georgia is one of only three states that don’t allow the sale of any alcohol at stores on Sunday. The other two are Connecticut and Indiana.
Bars and restaurants in some Georgia counties are allowed to sell drinks on Sunday if voters there approve.
The stadium bill that passed on Tuesday was aimed at a new facility being built in Gwinnett County to host an Atlanta Braves farm team. But it would apply in stadiums and auditoriums which seat more than 2,500 people and where the Sunday sale of alcohol in bars or restaurants has been authorized. The measure passed 30- 20.
“ Baseball, beer and peanuts, they are as American as apple pie,” the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Renee Unterman, R- Buford, said.