Georgia is one of three states that bans beer, wine and spirits at package stores and other off-premise locations on Sundays, according to Benton Jenkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Connecticut and Indiana are the other two.
State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), a supporter of the Senate version of the legislation, SB 10, said it allows local cities and counties by voter referendum to approve Sunday sales for beer, wine or liquor.
State Rep. Don Parsons (R-east Cobb) is a co-sponsor of the House's version, HB 69.
Parsons said the legislation would allow the Sunday sale of alcohol from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., if approved by voters in their communities.
State Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) said it's discriminatory to allow restaurants and clubs to serve alcohol on Sunday, as they do now, but not grocery and convenience stores.
"I don't think it's fair that they ought to be penalized when other people are selling the same thing," Manning said.
State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) also supports Sunday sales.
"I think it's ludicrous that you can go to a bar or restaurant and drink on Sunday, and that person cannot buy something and drink in the privacy of their own home," Cooper said. "I would much rather have someone have a drink in their own home and be off the highway than someone have to go to a bar or restaurant and drink and be tipsy or intoxicated when they're out on the highway."
Other lawmakers in favor of the legislation allowing local communities to decide on Sunday sales are state Reps. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), Sheila Jones (D-South Cobb), Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), David Wilkerson (D-Mableton), Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna), and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).
"I support the voters making this decision," Rogers said. "Free adults should be able to choose at the ballot box for themselves."
State Reps. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb) and Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) said they remain undecided, as does state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), who said he wants to see what the bill looks like after it comes out of the Senate Rules Committee.
State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-east Cobb) answered the question this way: "The last time I read the 4th Commandment, it did not say, 'Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy, except by majority vote in a local referendum.'"
State Rep. Terry Johnson (D-Marietta) said he opposes the legislation, saying he has not had any constituents contact him about Sunday sales.
"My constituents sent me down to work on jobs, education and transportation," Johnson said. "Right now, they are concerned about buying groceries and paying the gas bill."
State Sens. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) and Steve Thompson (D-Marietta), and state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) did not respond to the Journal by press time.
Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee supports the legislation.
"I think the Cobb Commission would approve putting it on a ballot for the citizens to vote on," Lee said.
Lee moreover believes the citizens would approve Sunday sales in Cobb.
"I think they would. I may be wrong, but that's what the voting box is for," Lee said.
All six of Cobb's mayors say they support legislation that would allow their cities to vote on Sunday sales, although they're not sure how their cities would vote.
"If they want to put it on the ballot, that's fine with me," Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said. "I'd feel real uncomfortable buying beer or whiskey on Sunday myself - and I drink. I don't want to be a hypocrite. But I'd hate to be seen leaving church in my Sunday clothes and go get a fifth of liquor. I just wouldn't do that."
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said it was backwards to allow people to visit their local sports bar and drink all Sunday before driving home, but not allow them to buy spirits from a grocery store.
Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins, who owned a liquor store 21 years ago, said while he supports allowing voters to decide, he personally would not vote for Sunday sales. Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn holds the same position as Jerkins.
"I think six days is enough. If they want, they can get it the night before," Jerkins said.