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Georgia voters to decide whether to lift Sunday alcohol sales ban

September 27, 2011 |  7:30 am

Georgia is considering lifting a ban on alcohol sales.
A regular beat in the rhythm of Georgia life: The Sunday trip to the grocery store, when families, freshly sprung from the pews, pack the aisles in their church finery and when the beer aisle is always immaculate, refrigerated -- and desolate, due to a ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

That last part may soon change throughout much of the state after Nov. 8, when residents in 101 cities and counties will have a chance to vote on lifting the ban, the Morris News service reports. Among them is Atlanta, the state capital, where Mayor Kasim Reed signed a measure approving a citywide vote on the issue last month.

It's not clear that every community will choose to loosen the Bible Belt a notch, but the fact that the matter is even on the ballot marks a victory for grocery stores, liquor distributors and their lobbyists over groups like the Georgia Baptist Convention.

New state legislation was required to allow the matter to go before voters. But for five years, religious groups, as well as the religious sentiment of legislators, kept such measures bottled up in the Georgia statehouse.

Morris reporter Walter C. Jones notes that the Christian groups found an unlikely ally in liquor store owners, who figured people had learned to stock up by Saturday. Opening on Sunday, their reasoning went, would only mean that they had to staff up seven days instead of six.

A Sunday sales bill finally passed this year after intense lobbying and an indication from first-year Gov. Nathan Deal that he would sign it. His predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had long promised to veto such a bill.

The liquor industry said passage of the bill made Georgia the 37th state to approve Sunday liquor sales legislation, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Atlanta and other Georgia communities already allow patrons of restaurants and bars to order drinks on Sunday.

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo credit: Tony Gentile / Reuters

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