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Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 11:57am

Sunday Alcohol Sales Set For Final Vote

The Sunday alcohol sales bill handily passed a House committee Tuesday, as expected. The bill has already passed the Senate. The bill could come to the House floor for a vote as early as Monday.

Proponents of the bill say the issue is convenience.

Horace Hamilton is a vice president with the Kroger supermarket chain in Atlanta. In testimony before the House Regulated Industries committee, he said ten percent of the chain’s customers only shop on Sunday. And that's what motivates him to support the bill.

“I don’t necessarily know if we will make any more money," he said after the committee meeting. "We will just make it easier for our customers to shop for all of the items we sell when they want to.”

The bill would allow local communities to hold a referendum on whether to allow retail alcohol sales on Sundays.

The measure's opponents say it would increase the number of drinking-related fatalities. The Georgia Christian Coalition lobbied hard against the bill early in the session. But when it passed the Senate last week, the coalition's president, Jerry Luquire said he would not fight it in the House because he was confident it would pass.

No one spoke against the bill at the House committee Tuesday.

Rep. Roger Williams who chairs the Regulated Industries Committee said it's not fair that Georgia residents can buy alcohol at sports venues and bars on Sunday but not at grocery stores.

"It's been five long years and there have been a lot of roadblocks in our way," he said after the meeting. "But this year has been the year people really wanted to get this bill out. It wasn't cut and dry but the vote was overwhelming [today]. I think everyone is ready to let the people vote on it."

Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

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