Thu., March 17, 2011 8:05am (EDT)

Alcohol, Gun Bills Pass Senate
By Melissa Stiers and Jeanne Bonner
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
GPB file photo
GPB file photo
A bill that would let communities legalize Sunday alcohol sales at stores passed the Senate on Wednesday. The lengthy debate in the Senate produced some surprising comments.

Some supporters of the measure said observing a day of rest on Sundays is outdated because many Georgians worship other days of the week.

The bill would let communities decide if they want to hold a referendum on allowing grocery stores and other retailers to sell alcohol on Sundays.

The bill will now need to pass the House in the final 10 days of this year’s legislative session to have a chance at becoming law.

The state Senate also passed a bill Wednesday that would allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons in church.

Sen. Steve Thompson of Marietta told his colleagues that he’s a gun enthusiast. But he doesn’t see the point of the bill.

He said the measure appears to be the work of the gun lobby.

“I guess I’m just saying it seems to me that these groups run out of things to introduce and they have to justify themselves to the national office and so they find a bill to introduce that takes things a little further.”

The bill’s chief sponsor, Republican Senator Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, says large churches can afford security equipment and personnel. But small churches often cannot, and the bill is meant for them.

The Senate also passed a bill that would allow women who seek abortions to be able to sue a clinic if it violates state regulations.

Supporters of the bill say abortion clinics often neglect to perform an ultrasound or allow patients to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus.

The bill updates current law that does not allow women to sue if a clinic violates state abortion regulations.

Opponents say the bill would increase malpractice insurance rates and would discourage doctors from performing abortions.

Other bills passed on Wednesday include a bill that would allow police to take DNA from anyone arrested with probable cause. Right now, only convicted felons have their samples taken.

Republican Joshua McKoon from Columbus says, his bill is aimed at getting criminals off the streets.

The measure could cost 1 million dollars to start up and 3 million dollars every year to maintain.

Its opponents say, the database is too expensive and infringes on privacy rights.