Every year the Georgia Legislature considers whether to allow us citizens to buy take out booze on Sunday. Every year, it decides we aren’t deserving of the privilege.
Our last Governor, Sonny Perdue, is a Baptist teetotaler. He famously said if you want to drink on Sunday, you should be organized enough to buy the booze on Saturday. (Of course you can buy booze on Sunday by getting into your car, driving to a restaurant or bar, drinking as much as they will serve you and then driving home. - so much for the public safety arguments used by Sonny and the religious right opposition.
Another argument against Sunday sales has been that “it’s the Lord’s day.” Apparently God doesn’t mind drunk driving but subscribes to the never drink alone theory of imbibing.
We have a new Governor, Republican Nathan Deal, who announced that, though he doesn’t drink, he wouldn’t veto a bill allowing Sunday sales.
In case you didn’t know it, there are two parts to Georgia: Atlanta and the rest of the state. Metro Atlanta county polls show overwhelming support for Sunday sales. Counties in the rest of the state either split or are overwhelmingly against Sunday sales.
So, some bright politicians decided to accommodate those that are agin it and those that are fer it. They introduced a bill that would allow counties and municipalities to hold referendums on whether they wanted to allow Sunday sales. Don’t want it in Valdosta, fine; but, stock up the beer shelves in Atlanta.
The Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the bill, telling legislators that it was going to make it a “scorecard issue” for future support. The bill came out of committee in the Senate. On to a floor vote, approval by the House and new era in Georgia will soon begin!
Then the sausage making started.
Ministers started whining - no one had told them about the public hearing that preceded the committee vote. The Christian Coalition or one of its clones announced that it would make the vote a scorecard issue. All of the people that have excoriated the health reform bill since last year on the grounds that it eliminated “local control” and trampled the “will of the people” suddenly lost their fervor for those bedrocks of democracy. Now, they wanted the bill stopped and stopped at the state level without giving “the people” a vote.
Oh, and it turned out not all members of the Chamber of Commerce were in love with Sunday sales. Liquor store owners (and for a religious state we seem to have a lot of liquor stores) like the idea of being closed on Sunday. A week’s worth of sales in six days would turn into an extra day of labor costs with no increase in revenue, giving them less profit.
So, what were the good Senators going to do when confronted with the stark reality that campaign money might dry up if they turned on the liquor store lobby and the religious folks?
They held a closed caucus meeting and mentioned coming out that it didn’t look good for the bill. They were going to take a private poll of all the Republican Senators – no majority among the majority, no bill. So the anonymous poll was held. The bill died a quiet death. No Republican had to stick his neck out by publicly voting for or against it.
So, all of the Democratic Senators and Representatives were disenfranchised, along with a few million people across the state. Liquor store profits are safe and Baptists once again succeeded in using government to force their religious views down the throats of their neighbors. The sausage doesn’t taste real good going down; but, I’ve got plenty of time to get to the store before the Christian Sabbath to get something to wash it down.