On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers surprised a few people around the state Capitol when he said that Senate legislation to permit package sales of alcohol on Sundays would not come up for a floor vote this week.
A call to Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour quickly explained the situation. His committee, which supervises the flow of legislation in the Senate, has yet to meet – but will later this week.
However, Republican senators don’t want the Sunday sales bill to be the very first measure to hit the chamber floor. They’re loathe to be seen as thumbing their noses at conservative Christians, who – despite losing this fight – remain a vital constituency within the GOP.
Moreover, Balfour said, Republican senators would prefer that the first floor vote by the chamber be on a stated priority of the GOP caucus.
One consideration may be a blistering, Feb. 4 letter to senators sent by the Georgia Council on Moral and Civic Concerns, which years ago was the most powerful religious voice in the state Capitol.
Read the entire letter here. A sampling:
”With all the problems facing the state of Georgia, we are flabbergasted at the dizzying speed with which Sunday alcohol sales legislation is moving through the state Senate. In years past, we have been permitted opportunity to share our views before the committees of the General Assembly studying this issue.
“This year, we received no notice of the hearing, learning of it after-the-fact from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We are amazed that this legislation has been recommended to the Senate, after a single committee meeting of a few minutes length, with no dissenting or cautioning voices having been heard…..
The letter closed with an allusion to Pontius Pilate that senators couldn’t miss:
“Do not fall into the age-old trap of believing that you can ‘wash your hands’ of important and far-reaching decisions by deferring them to other officials or to the people.”
My AJC colleague Mike Luckovich has done a stellar job capturing the applause that Gov. Nathan Deal is enjoying from libertarian-minded voters for stating he would sign a Sunday sales bill.
Via Facebook, state Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, has announced that he would vote against the Sunday sales measure:
I understand the concerns of those who support Sunday sales of alcohol, however I stand with many in my district, the Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Conservatives in Action, and the Georgia Christian Coalition in opposing Sunday sales.
Throughout this morning, the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for and against HB 87, a bill that would – among other things – put in place real penalties for local governments that use illegal immigrant labor in public works projects.
Which makes this piece by Randy Travis of Fox5 News extremely well-timed:
Michael Thurmond, the former Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate and state Labor Commissioner, has found gainful employment. He has joined the law firm of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer. Thurmond will focus on serious personal injury cases, products liability, class actions, and whistleblower claims,
The law firm’s senior partner, Jim Butler of Columbus, is well-known in Democratic circles.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider