Ga. Senate passes Sunday alcohol sales

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:26 PM
Last updated 5:36 PM
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ATLANTA -- Georgia could soon join the 47 other states in allowing the sale of packaged alcohol on Sunday afternoons if the House matches the Senate’s Wednesday vote.

The Senate voted 32-22 for Senate Bill 10 which would allow local voters to decide if they want to permit the sale of bottled beer, wine and distilled beverages. Georgia already lets communities decide if they want to allow the sale of booze by the drink.

Proponents of SB 10 said it makes little sense to permit drinking in restaurants and bars on Sundays where people still have to drive home while not allowing them to buy on those same days for home consumption.

“We have to vote on this because of what’s already in the existing law,” said Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee, said he is sympathetic to concerns about safety on the roads or the possibility of family violence from people who drink but that since alcohol is already readily available his bill won’t be to blame.

“It does not create one drop of alcohol to be sold,” he said. “... Obesity kills a lot more than the consumption of alcohol.”

Opponents tried to weaken the bill with amendments, but all were defeated. One, for example by Sen. Hardie Davis, would have extended the period in which sales are prohibited from 11:30 Sunday mornings to 2 p.m.

“So we can remember the sanctuaries, the houses of worship, as opposed to opening the doors of the places of worship and the first thing I see is the dispensing of alcohol libation and spirits other than the Holy Spirit,” said Davis, an Augusta Democrat who is also a minister.

Preserving the sanctity of Sundays also motivated Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, to vote no. He compared it to abortion by saying that public opinion changed on abortion when the courts ruled it legal.

“When you change the law, people will believe the law, whether you tell them the right thing or the wrong thing,” he said.

Sen. Bill Cowsert, an attorney, said he’s only been involved in two drunk-driving cases in his career that occurred on Sundays but that changing the law will increase those accidents.

“Common sense tells you that you are going to have more drinking and driving on Sundays if we pass this bill,” said the Athens Republican.

Grocery stores and convenience stores lobbied for the bill, describing it as a service for their customers. On the other hand, package stores opposed it because they don’t want to bear the expense of being open for a seventh day during the week to prevent loss of business to competitors who are already open on Sundays.

“This is not driven by some clamoring of the public but by the grocery stores because their research shows they can increase their sales by 13 percent,” Cowsert said.

The bill almost didn’t come to a vote this session at all. It sailed out of committee in the House and Senate in separate bills after Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters in January that he would sign it because it permits local voters to have a say.

Then the Republican senators voted behind closed doors not to bring it before the full Senate for a recorded vote. The House put the brakes on its version, preferring to avoid a controversial recorded vote on a bill that stands no chance of becoming law.

Heavy lobbying by groups on both sides, including from the grassroots, apparently wore opponents down to where they were ready to get the matter behind them.

“I think we have to vote on it,” said Williams, the highest-ranking senator as president pro tempore. “The author deserves a vote.”

How they voted:

Hardie Davis, D-Augusta -no

Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro -no

Bill Jackson, R-Appling -no

Comments (74) Add comment
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Beck Tears
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Beck Tears 03/16/11 - 12:31 pm
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Is there a way to watch or

Is there a way to watch or read what was said and by whom during these debates?

Frank I
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Frank I 03/16/11 - 12:46 pm
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No thanks, of course, to our

No thanks, of course, to our good Senator Hardie Davis...

Chillen
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Chillen 03/16/11 - 12:47 pm
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How in the world could you be

How in the world could you be in opposition to this bill? This is anti-govt regulation at its best. If your religion dictates that you don't drink on Sunday, don't do it. Don't regulate me if I want to.

JesusSavesAtCitiBank
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JesusSavesAtCitiBank 03/16/11 - 01:03 pm
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Boy Soldout is gonna lose it

Boy Soldout is gonna lose it when he hears this :-P

hardiedavis
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hardiedavis 03/16/11 - 01:22 pm
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It's not often that I read or

It's not often that I read or give strong consideration to the comments that appear on this page. Today that is different because I believe it necessary to state for the record that my NO vote had nothing to do with RELIGIOIN as I voted NO along with other DEMS and REP who believe that the sale of spirits on Sunday is not needed. I generally listen to constituents on these matters and Augusta folks who called or sent messages were split 50/50 on this issue. I don't remember hearing from anyone who has commented thus far on this page. I therefore voted against this legislation based on data provided to me. I offered an amendment that would have made the bill better but it did not receive the requisite number of votes. To Chillen and Frank I hope that as you are considering how I vote on any measure that you take opportunity to reach out to me and get clarity prior to comments that may not have merit. You can also watch debate on any measure at www.legis.ga.gov and click Senate under the Watch Live section of webpage.

Chillen
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Chillen 03/16/11 - 02:37 pm
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hardie. Please remember that

hardie. Please remember that not all readers of this newspaper are in Richmond County. I am not so I would have had no reason to contact you.

My statement "How in the world could you be in opposition to this bill?" was directed generically to all people, not to you personally. I didn't even read any of the comments that were posted prior to mine so Frank's is unrelated to my comment.

It is not your job as the government to regulate who buys what on which day. Unless you own bars who CAN sell on Sunday or have friends who own them (conflict of interest) or you have religious reasons, a "no" vote makes no sense whatsoever.

Why don't we just ban the sale of leaf blowers, hand lotion, cell phones and computers on Sunday too? Makes about as much sense.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/16/11 - 03:05 pm
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Mr. Davis said, "It's not

Mr. Davis said, "It's not often that I read or give strong consideration to the comments that appear on this page."

That won't make you a lot of friends around these parts.

seabeau
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seabeau 03/16/11 - 03:46 pm
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ALCOHOL!! # 1 ABUSED DRUG IN

ALCOHOL!! # 1 ABUSED DRUG IN THE WORLD. Lets tax it out of existance.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 03/16/11 - 03:47 pm
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This bill was never about

This bill was never about religion. This bill wasnt even about Sunday Sales of alcohol. This bill was about local control over a perfectly legal purchase. We see now, in plain view, what the leadership of this state did not want us to see. Now we know who is for lower government intervention and freedom, and who is not. If one was against Sunday sales, then they could fight for it at the local level. Id imagine, on both sides of this issue, we will see some primary challenges coming.

IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG
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IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG 03/16/11 - 04:40 pm
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Mr. Davis, you state that

Mr. Davis, you state that your no vote had “had nothing to do with RELIGIOIN (sic)”, yet in the above story you defend your no vote and proposed amendments by stating, “so we can remember the sanctuaries, the houses of worship, as opposed to opening the doors of the places of worship and the first thing I see is the dispensing of alcohol libation and spirits other than the Holy Spirit” Perhaps, you should defend the greater context of this statement, as it appears to contradict your user post. I can understand your stance if your constituents did in fact split along the issue 50/50 as you later indicate. But from a third party perspective this issue appears to have EVERYTHING to do with religion.

Kirkwood
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Kirkwood 03/16/11 - 04:44 pm
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With respect Senator Davis,

With respect Senator Davis, you are contradicting yourself. In your comment, how can you say your vote of No had nothing to do with religion when you are quoted in this same article in regards to your attempt to add the amendment restricting the Sunday hours as saying, "So we can remember the sanctuaries, the houses of worship, as opposed to opening the doors of the places of worship and the first thing I see is the dispensing of alcohol libation and spirits other than the Holy Spirit"

Any law that has basis in religion that restricts my everyday actions that are legal on any day but Sunday is unconstitutional, in my opinion, due to separation of church and state. And to go off on a semi-related tangent, I am also against the provision of SB308, which is mostly an excellent update to Georgia weapons law, that restricts Georgia Weapons License holders from carrying their weapons into a house of worship. These locations are epicenters of hate crimes and targets for mentally unstable individuals. We all know prayer won't stop the deluded zealot that busts in with the intent to kill every parishioner in the place. Using common sense, I think a house of worship it one of the primary places a person SHOULD be allowed to legally carry self defense weapons. This is just another example of religious influence on law that should be ruled unconstitutional.

dougk
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dougk 03/16/11 - 04:59 pm
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Mr. Davis, you speak out of
Unpublished

Mr. Davis, you speak out of both sides of your mouth. Would you like to explain or should we just chalk it up to politics as usual??

corgimom
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corgimom 03/16/11 - 05:09 pm
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"Proponents of SB 10 said it

"Proponents of SB 10 said it makes little sense to permit drinking in restaurants and bars on Sundays where people still have to drive home while not allowing them to buy on those same days for home consumption."

Finally, COMMON SENSE!

Frank I
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Frank I 03/16/11 - 05:28 pm
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In addition to the above

In addition to the above noted contradictions Mr Davis, I had reached out to your office on two occasions regarding this bill. First on February 15th via email, and a second time by telephone at your Atlanta office yesterday evening. The email got NO response whatsoever, not even a generic autoreply and of course because you likely close the office no later than 6pm, the phone call was forwarded to voicemail.

realitycheck09
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realitycheck09 03/16/11 - 05:48 pm
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Anyone who says their "no"

Anyone who says their "no" vote has nothing to do with religion is either ignorant or lying. Do you think the original prohibition on Sunday Sales was arbitrary? I mean, why didn't they pick Tuesdays? Come on.

If you're going to take a ridiculous position, at least have the guts to say it was based on religion.

BigCat
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BigCat 03/16/11 - 06:59 pm
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I don't understand sales on

I don't understand sales on Sunday at all is against the law at all. Wouldn't that add revenue to the State? About DUIs and alcoholic incidents....Right now, anyone that has something planned (be it alcohol involved or not) on Sunday, buys their supplies the day before. The only trouble with this potential approval would possibly involve is the poorest of alcohol consuming citizens that don't own a fridge or storage area for their drink, and those individuals will find alcohol from another source on Sunday anyways or maybe another choice of stimulus (drug). Stop thumping the good book and come to the reality of the rest of the United States.

Randall_Flagg
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Randall_Flagg 03/16/11 - 07:26 pm
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So Hardie doesn't check

So Hardie doesn't check comments of his constituents in Richmond county? Isn't that what he's hired to do? He's seeing data to help him make his decision? So the other 47 states are either illiterate or ignorant? This isn't based on religion? Then why the quotes in the article about Sunday being open to house of the lord etc? Quit bs-ing "senator". You are basically saying 1) yes this is a religious decision, 2) you are for bigger government and that the choice of the people doesn't matter and goverent knows better or 3) all of the above. Needless to say "senator" you lost A LOT of votes with you saying nay to SB10. Enjoy your retirement. Please comment Hardie (you haven't earned the title senator and yes you work for ME!)

Randall_Flagg
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Randall_Flagg 03/16/11 - 07:30 pm
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And I too "senator called and

And I too "senator called and emailed your office THREE TIMES without response about this bill. What do you have to say to that? "oh I'm too busy voting to allow light bulbs to be unregulated to call you back"? Minister...god help you.

hardiedavis
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hardiedavis 03/16/11 - 08:49 pm
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This will be my final

This will be my final response to this matter as I certainly would not attempt to debate my actions or the comments or those I do not know or see in this manner. I commented to this article in an attempt to appear accessible and transparent to those who are constituents.

Let me applaud those who indicate that they have contacted me or my office via email or phone. On a matter such as Sunday sales there have been hundreds of emails and an equal number of calls. I attempt to answer or respond to all of them as they are received and as time permits. If I am unable to respond the issue is recorded on a tracking sheet for review and consideration as I make decisions.

I do not ignore constituent calls or emails. Having said that let me clear up what appears double speak to some. This was not a religious decision in that I did not use the Bible or scripture as reason not to vote for the bill. In fact as noted above my amendment was an attempt not to kill the bill but alter the times of sale if in fact the measure was passed. I expressed concern about the times as did my colleague Senator Tommie Williams(R). This was done in an effort to show some deference to all houses of worship. While the comments attributed to me above are acknowledged, they were made for effect in gaining support for the amendment. My amendment also was the same amendment as the author of the bills' amendment with the exception I chose 2:00 pm vs 12:30 pm as the author.

Finally let me state that I am honored to be the Senator from the 22 district. I believe that my track record is one of honesty, integrity accessibility, and openness with all constituents who have made efforts to correspond with me at any time. While I may not get opportunity to respond to all issues, every effort is made to do so.

I believe it is important that any and every person tasked with making decisions on behalf of others does so in a deliberate manner. I take it serious when making decisions for the State of Georgia and on behalf of the voters of the 22nd district. These are not emotional decisions as some would suggest but decisions made based on the merits of the “bill” being considered, my knowledge of the measure, core values, and the data before me that often includes constituent input.

If this warrants someone far removed from the actual process to suggest or even threaten not supporting me then I am quite ok with that decision. Simply put my “NO” vote was rendered because I do not want to do anything that further promotes DUI or has the potential to endanger the life of others through increased alcohol consumption, even if there are those who argue “local control”. I am the first to state that we need less government interference in our lives and I say it even when it’s not convenient unlike many others.

Randall_Flagg
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Randall_Flagg 03/16/11 - 09:29 pm
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Hardie, why do the words "all

Hardie, why do the words "all house of worship" even show up in this discussion? This is a bill to allow US the citizens to choose for ourselves. And the comment of "more DUI's"? How does Sunday make any difference to that than the other six days of the week? I got an idea, go ahead an propose a bill to stop ALL alcohol sales to prevent DUI's because we all know how well prohibition works in this country. I just want you to answer one question Hardie, why DON'T you want us Augustans the ability to choose for ourselves? Do you not trust us to make the right decision for our community? Again, the bill is about letting COUNTIES choose for themselves NOT YOU! So why not give us the nod and allow us to take it from there? Answer that one question and I'll stop commenting. Until then you have lost my vote and will work to make sure you don't hold office ever again.

JesusSavesAtCitiBank
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JesusSavesAtCitiBank 03/16/11 - 09:56 pm
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Mr. Davis are you aware of

Mr. Davis are you aware of the 1st Amendment or Separation of Church and State?

Randall_Flagg
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Randall_Flagg 03/16/11 - 10:27 pm
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And what about the data you

And what about the data you keep referring to? How is it state senators from 47 different states seem to not come to your same conclusion?

Frank I
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Frank I 03/17/11 - 04:56 am
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first and FOREMOST Mr. Davis,

first and FOREMOST Mr. Davis, this will NOT be your final response in this matter. I am a constituent and ALL of your actions in office are held accountable to my inquiry. That is the position you are in as an elected official. If I asked further you are REQUIRED to answer to those that live within the realm of your district. I have made myself fully accessible to you, yet you have not responded directly once... The argument that you're hiding behind (increased risk of DUI) could easily be countered by the fact that those going out to drink on Sunday's would be just as likely to consume in their own home if the opportunity were available to them to purchase on Sunday and do so.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 03/16/11 - 10:54 pm
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Maybe Senator Davis can also

Maybe Senator Davis can also explain to his constituents what happened to the efforts to enact state legislation to allow communities to enact CNPOs?

methree
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methree 03/16/11 - 10:55 pm
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most people just stock up on

most people just stock up on saturday anyway.

Augustaboy
54
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Augustaboy 03/16/11 - 11:26 pm
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Keep voting. You and your

Keep voting. You and your ignorance will just keep my friends and I spending tax dollars in South Carolina on Sunday for booze. Get over yourselves.

blakkone
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blakkone 03/17/11 - 08:19 am
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Mr. Davis...you pretty much

Mr. Davis...you pretty much insulted every commenter on this forum when you stated, "It's not often that I read or give strong consideration to the comments that appear on this page..."

These "commenters" helped put you in your position. These "commenters" are very intelligent, very concerned, very educated, and very cognizant of the what goes on in and aroung Augusta-Richmond County and surrounding areas.

Please dont treat the "commenters" as though they are a bunch of 10th-grade, pop music following, immature, unimportant kids.

P.S. - I would like to be able to buy my alcohol Monday-Saturday and Sunday if I choose. Dont need you and your buddies to decide whats best time to consume alcohol. If im irresponsible with alcohol consumption, it'll probably show friday or saturday night, not Sunday when I have to get up and go to work on Monday.

WW1949
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WW1949 03/17/11 - 08:23 am
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IF you must drink on Sunday

IF you must drink on Sunday just buy on Saturday like you have always done. Big deal.

InChristLove
22486
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InChristLove 03/17/11 - 08:39 am
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Senator Davis, I appauld your

Senator Davis, I appauld your effort and if other's would take the time to actually read and understand what was written they would be less apt to be so rude (then again, maybe not).

The article states that Sen. Davis proposed amendment "would have extended the period in which sales are prohibited from 11:30 Sunday mornings to 2 p.m."

Sounds to me like a compromise.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/17/11 - 08:45 am
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"The Senate voted 32-22 for

"The Senate voted 32-22 for Senate Bill 10 which would allow local voters to decide if they want to permit the sale of bottled beer, wine and distilled beverages."

Seems to me if I read this right, all this bill does is allow the people to decided, by way of voting, whether they will or will not allow Sunday alcohol sales in stores. What's going to happen, and who are they going to blame, if the people vote and the majority want to keep Sunday alcohol sales banned???

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