Regional Legislative and Regulatory Roundup

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Regional Legislative and Regulatory Roundup

NEW YORK -- There are only three states in the Union that prohibit voters from deciding whether to allow off-premise sales of alcohol beverages on Sunday: Georgia, Connecticut and Indiana.

In Georgia, say the polls, voters would like to have a chance to vote on the issue, but so far the matter has been stuck in the state Senate.

"We can't even get it on the ballot," said Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS). "And it doesn't make sense, because the state allows Georgians to drive to a restaurant on a Sunday, buy and consume alcohol, get in their cars and drive away; yet they can't purchase a bottle of wine or beer at the corner store, and consume it in the safety of their own homes."

In addition, Georgia, like the rest of the nation, has seen changes in shopping patterns making Sunday the second highest shopping day for many retailers.

"The result is that the Sunday prohibition hurts us," says Tudor, "by forcing Georgians to cross into neighboring states to do their Sunday off-premise shopping."

The state legislature returns in January, however, and the issue will once again be before it, since last year’s bill automatically rolls over to the 2010 session. Tudor indicated that retailers will continue to push for a level playing field. "Georgia," he notes, "is surrounded by states that allow local option for Sunday sales, and in this tough economic environment our retailers shouldn’t be forced to compete with one hand tied behind their backs. Passage of this legislation will not allow Sunday sales; it will only allow a local vote on whether such sales can occur. For that, the time has come."