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Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 4:11am

Day-3 General Assembly Roundup

This could be the year the legislature will allow Sunday alcohol sales to go before voters. A group of state senators Monday introduced a bill that would allow alcohol to be sold after church on Sundays.

The bill calls for local communities to hold a vote on whether to allow retail alcohol sales after 12:30 pm on Sundays. For years former Governor Sonny Perdue had blocked efforts to put Sunday alcohol sales before voters.

Senate Majority leader Chip Rogers says Governor Nathan Deal seems to have no problem with the issue and lawmakers could pass the bill this year.

"I think that is kind of the green light the legislature was looking for. A lot of people didn't want to go out and get involved in an issue they thought would certainly get vetoed. And that veto threat doesn't exist any longer. "

The bill still blocks any alcohol sales on Sunday mornings, a nod to Georgia's religious community.

In other legislative news, a bill has been proposed to expand school vouchers in Georgia. Back in 2007 school vouchers were offered to special-needs children—including for private schools. Now Senator Chip Rogers wants to open the pool to children of military families and foster kids. Rogers points to the recent problems in Atlanta’s public schools as a reason for parents to be given the best educational options for their kids.

House speaker David Ralston is defending a $17,000 lobbyist sponsored trip to Europe – a trip that’s come under scrutiny from ethics watchdog groups.

The trip was paid-for by a Washington-based consulting firm that develops rail projects in the U.S. It included Ralston's family and staffers. While there the group traveled parts of Europe by rail and looked at public transit.

Ralston says his families expenses were part of the lobbyists offer and the trip was a fact finding mission.

"It was important to me because of my commitment to creating jobs and to economic development to look at how other countries do economic development and transportation and so I think the trip was very helpful in that regard."

Ralston says he is not for sale.

Ethics advocates are pushing for a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyist. Currently there in no limit, but lobbyists must make all spending public.


Edgar Treiguts