On Sunday sales and the Senate’s playful sense of irony

The joy of our state Capitol can be found in the twists and turns that lawmakers are prepared to take — sometimes, on behalf of the right people.

Late Wednesday, after an hour and 45-minute delay, a meeting of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee was canceled on account of lack of interest. Only two of 13 lawmakers showed up.

One cannot help but think that the absences were deliberate. The committee was scheduled to take up S.B.16, the bill that would allow communities across the state to decide whether their grocery and convenience stores should be allowed to sell beer and wine on Sundays.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle cleared the legislation for a floor vote before the session began, but that hasn’t stopped the hemming and hawing. A major quality-of-life issue with huge political impact, lawmakers argue in private. The Georgia Christian Coalition is attempting to reassert itself by opposing the measure — a source of great concern.

But it’s all about quality of life, of course. For some.

Today, the Senate voted 32-14 to pass S.B. 68, which apparently had no problem escaping the same group of concerned lawmakers on the regulated industries committee.

The bill allows local communities to decide whether to exempt themselves from a state law that prohibits the sale of alcohol within 100 yards of a public housing complex. My AJC colleague Mary Lou Pickel was in the chamber at the time.

“Are we sending the wrong message by making an exemption in the law?” asked Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), who opposed the bill.

Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), the sponsor of S.B. 68, said local government should be allowed to decide for themselves where liquor stores set up shop. Murphy was one of those who didn’t show up at the committee meeting on Sunday sales.

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