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Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 10:38am

Sunday Alcohol Sales Revived For Vote

The Sunday alcohol sales bill is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate on Wednesday. If the bill does not pass, it will be dead for this legislative session.

The bill was one of the first to make it out of committee this session, but on Tuesday it was one of the last chosen by the Senate Rules Committee for Wednesday’s calendar.

Its chief sponsor, Republican Sen. John Bulloch of Ochlocknee, says he doesn’t know why that is, given the measure’s widespread support.

“There is real, strong support for this bill under a lot of aspects," Bulloch says, following the rules committee. "I mean, from the business community and everything – there is a lot of support for it.”

Bulloch says the bill has been alive in one form or another for five years. He says it's time to decide one way or another if the bill is viable.

The bill would let communities vote on whether they want grocery stores and other retailers to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Wednesday is Crossover Day in the state legislature. That's when bills must have passed at least one chamber to remain alive during this year's session. The bill would still need to pass the House if the Senate ratifies it on Wednesday.

The bill had early support this session, but conservative groups, including the Christian Coalition, lobbied lawmakers to drop the measure. That effectively stalled the measure for several weeks.

Lobbyists for grocery stores say there is broad support for the bill, because many working parents shop for food on Sunday and don't have time to make an extra stop to grab a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer.

"The grocery industry has changed very much over the years," said Kathy Kusava of the Georgia Food Industry Association. "What used to be a small day of sales for us is now one of our major days. In fact Sunday is the second [busiest] if not the busiest day in some of our metro stores."

The Sunday alcohol sales bill is one of 50 measures that the Senate will tackle on Wednesday.