In a letter to Sen. Barry Loudermilk and Rep. Roger Williams, Olens wrote, "While I take no policy position on the proposed legislation, it seems that legislation could legally be enacted by the General Assembly to provide for local government to authorize certain sales on Sunday" as long as the legislation didn't conflict with state law.
Sen. John Bulloch, an Ochlocknee Republican and sponsor of the Senate bill, said Thursday that he now considers the matter cleared up.
"I hope that the Senate now will look at this," Bulloch said. "That may make a difference in how the numbers stack up on bringing this to the floor. Maybe there's a more favorable opportunity to vote on it."
The House and Senate each have bills that could put the issue on the ballot next fall, giving local governments the option of bringing a referendum to their voters. Both bills passed quickly through committee, but a full floor vote has stalled as Christian conservative groups opposed the proposals, which have gotten support from grocery and liquor stores.
The potential conflict with the Georgia Constitution was one of the issues raised by opponents. Further pressure to revive the bill came Monday in a letter from Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
"With Georgia facing significant budgetary challenges, the legislature should be looking at every option to help balance the budget in a manner that does not raise taxes on already heavily burdened Georgia families and employees," Norquist wrote. "Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it's important that local communities be given the freedom to decide for themselves whether to permit the sale of alcohol on Sundays, as is the case with most other matters pertaining to alcohol sales."
Bulloch says the issue is one of community autonomy, not morality. He points to his own district, where all eight counties he represents are dry - but the county seats are all wet.
A version of the proposal must pass in one of the legislative chambers before the 30th day of the session - currently scheduled for March 16 - to survive this year.