Bill dies in GOP caucus

ATLANTA --- Senate Republicans decided behind closed doors not to bring up a bill for a roll-call vote on allowing the public to decide if their communities can sell alcohol on Sunday afternoons.

Senate Republican Leader Chip Rogers told reporters gathered outside his office Thursday that the GOP Caucus didn't have enough support to guarantee passage of Senate Bill 10.

"The case was made. A discussion was had, a thorough, deliberate process," he said. "Everybody had a chance to go back and talk to their constituents. And after all that, it was a decisive answer: No."

Rogers, a supporter of the bill, had said at the start of the current legislative session that he expected quick passage when Gov. Nathan Deal announced he would sign it into law. Similar legislation has died in committee in previous years because then-Gov. Sonny Perdue vowed to veto it.

Once the threat of a veto disappeared, SB 10 won unanimous approval in committee, and a similar House bill sailed through committee in that chamber.

Observers had predicted a vote by the full House and Senate any day for the past two weeks.

Then the Senate Republican Caucus discussed the issue in its private meeting Wednesday, followed by the leadership's survey of support by the members.

Generally, the majority caucus withholds bills that don't have enough support to pass to spare members the embarrassment of voting for doomed measures, especially controversial ones.

"This is how we handle every single bill," said Rogers, of Woodstock.

Rogers said he didn't make a list of the reasons his colleagues opposed the measure, but a lobbyist for the grocery industry did.

Kathy Kuzava, president of the Georgia Food Industry Association, said beyond those who have a moral objection to selling alcohol there are legislators who see a legal conflict with permitting each community to vote.

"Some of the senators have expressed concerns that they believe that only the state has jurisdiction over alcohol ordinances, and that couldn't be further from the truth," she said. "So, we are attempting to get that cleared up for everyone."

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