Locals, Officials Open Up About Sunday Liquor Laws
Should Lawrenceville and other municipalities be allowed to sell alcohol and liquor on Sundays?
Possibly coming soon to a liquor and grocery store near you, the selling of alcohol, beer and wine on Sundays. This could happen if the state Senate and House pass proposed legislation, SB (Senate Bill) 10, which would give local governments (City Councils and Board of Commissioners) the right, if they chose, to ask voters in the form of a referendum, whether or not they want beer, wine and alcohol sold by grocery and liquor stores on Sundays.
“I am all for letting the people make that choice,” said District 9, State Senator Don Balfour. Lawrenceville and Snellville are among the cities Balfour represents.
It is projected that if Sunday sales are allowed, Georgia could see an increase of about 1 million in tax revenues. Gwinnett, because most of its cities and counties are already pouring on Sundays in bars and restaurants, may not be significantly impacted. County revenue, in part will be determined by how many liquor stores choose to open on Sundays.
“I am all in favor of getting rid of law that appears to be based on religious bias. The choice of rather to drink or not is personal and option any day of the week,” said 31-year-old Ilyas Muhammad. “Religion should not be imposed through laws.”
Governor Nathan Deal, unlike his predecessor Gov. Sonny Perdue, has already indicated support of letting local governments put Sunday sales in the hands of voters. Former Gov. Perdue made it clear that he would veto any legislation that supported Sunday alcohol sales.
“What people need to know is that alcohol is and has always been a locally controlled issue. But SB10 does provide guidelines, such as hours for selling, for cities and counties that vote to pass referendum. SB10 has the same cycles of approval as any other referendum put forth by local government,” said Jim Tudor, President of Georgia Association of Convenient Stores.
Henry County resident Romani Guy said, “I believe the public should be allowed to decide whether they want this or not. It really shouldn’t matter where and when people can legally purchase whatever they choose to drink, on the day they choose to drink it.”
Grocery stores do not currently sell liquor, but passage could increase the volume of sales for beer and wine on Sundays. Liquor stores are closed on Sundays, but given an additional day to generate revenue, will they be compelled to, economically, compete with each other as well as bars and restaurants by opening.
Another factor that might influence municipalities and voters, noted by Tudor, is the tourism dollars lost when visitors can not purchase alcohol while staying in Georgia on Sundays.
“Shopping patterns have changed. For some it is the second largest spending day of the week. Tourist dollars that would be spent on alcohol on Sundays are lost and can never be recouped. That is money that cannot be measured, but we know exists,” said Tudor.
When reached for comment Kroger’s Director of Community and Public Relations, Glynn Jenkins, asked that Kathy Kuzava, President of the Georgia Food Industry Association, be contacted. GFIA represents the legislative interest of all grocery stores operating in Georgia.
“This is a simple bill; a completely local bill that has been blown out of proportion. It is not a statewide bill. It mirrors the current referendum that allows bars and restaurants to serve on Sundays. This bill will give each community the right to decide with their votes,” said Kuzava.
For Georgians living in south Georgia, if referendum passes, it will mean they will no longer have to drive across state lines to purchase alcohol on Sundays. Those choosing to drink on Sundays will no longer have to drive to nearby wet counties in Georgia; they can stay and buy locally.
“I live in Muscogee, so I think it would be a good thing to buy alcohol anytime and from anywhere,” said 24-year-old Troy Wilson.
“The Superbowl is coming up. That means people will be going out on a Sunday and drinking for at least 5 hours then getting behind the wheel to drive home. Whereas, if this law was already in place, they could go to a liquor store or a nearby grocery store purchase their alcohol and then take it home to drink, that is a good thing,” said Balfour.
Many have expressed disdain for the law, citing it to be outdated and ineffective. Georgia is among three states, with Connecticut and Indiana being the other two, that do not allow alcohol, wine or beer sales in liquor or grocery stores on Sunday. The law is perceived as ineffective because those choosing to drink on Sunday simply purchase Monday through Saturday.
“I hope it passes because it could keep a lot of drunk drivers off the roads if they have the option of purchasing on Sunday and then taking it home. So I am all for letting the people decide and I hope they agree with me,” said Jeremy Mann.