Sunday alcohol sales bill heads to Deal
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign legislation that will give individual cities in Georgia the ability to decide on local Sunday alcohol sales. Senate Bill 10 passed by a vote of 32-22 in the Senate a month ago after being stalled there for five years and just passed 127-44 in the House on April 12.
The bill states that the governing authority of a county or municipality may authorize package sales by retailers of malt beverages, wine or distilled spirits on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 and 11:30 p.m. if such sales of both malt beverages and wine are approved by referendum.
Even after the governor signs the passed bill into action on July 1, Sunday alcohol sales will be determined at a local level. City officials would have to put a call for a referendum on a meeting agenda. Then a majority of the city council would have to vote in favor of the referendum. The referendum would be a direct vote in which citizens would be asked whether packaged sales would be allowed. For the resolution for Sunday alcohol sales to become effective, more than one-half of the votes cast would need to be in favor of the resolution.
While some believe package sales might help the economy, according to City Councilman Steve Chambers, Sunday sales are a matter of convenience and not necessarily an economic boost.
“I have not seen substantial evidence that it is an economic windfall,” Chambers said. “I don’t know that should be any reason behind it, that it will help the Milledgeville economy by having Sunday sales. I think all it does is basically makes it convenient for anyone seven days a week so they can purchase alcoholic beverages.”
Kroger Store Manager David Sheppard has not seen a demand for packaged sales on alcohol and says that customers trying to buy alcohol on Sunday hasn’t been a big issue for the store. Every once in a while, out of state customers are surprised to find that they can’t buy on Sundays.
“If someone from Florida comes up and they don’t have any idea that Georgia is still 40 years behind the times, the register is going to (beep) and say ‘can’t sell alcohol’ and we will pull it down to the side and the customer says ‘oh, I didn’t realize that,’” Sheppard said. “Most customers, most consumers, that purchase alcohol know and make their plans around that.”
Sheppard agrees that sales on Sunday is a matter of convenience for not only customers but stores that are already open on Sunday.
“It’s just an inconvenience right now to not be able to sell it. It’s there but we can’t sell it,” Sheppard said.
Kat Weaver, a sophomore psychology major, and Erin Kelly, a sophomore mass communication major, don’t anticipate Sunday sales impacting students except relief for the ability to restock the cooler during parties.
“I don’t think it will be different than getting it during the rest of the week. But it’s going to be odd… because we are used to not being able getting it,” Weaver said.
“It might affect parties on Saturday nights where they run out at 12 in the morning on Sunday,” Kelly said.
Chambers also believes the impact on students would be minimal and that Sunday sales would be about self-consumption within your own home.
“I don’t see people traveling around and partying on a Sunday,” Chambers said. “A lot of the time we are a suitcase college anyways. Parties rip wide open on Thursday and then there are no classes on Friday and what half of the student body goes home for the weekend.”
The first possible date that the Sunday sales question could be put before voters is Nov. 8.