Thursday, March 17, 2011

17 MAR 11: Hot Toddy Sunday

The timing was a little off in the Georgia Legislature Wednesday. If you're going to take an important and dramatic vote involving alcohol, shouldn't you wait one more day -- until Saint Patrick's Day?

The Georgia Senate voted 32-22 to allow sales of alcohol in stores on Sunday. Voters still would have to approve it, in a city or county referendum. Voters who actually HAVE stills probably will vote no, to avoid any competition.

The vote on Sunday alcohol sales probably was the most closely-watched of the Georgia legislative session -- even more than the vote on pre-Kindergarten funding. It may sound crass, but many people give six-packs more attention than four-year-olds.

But the vote by Columbus's two state senators left some people scratching their heads. Ed Harbison was recorded as "excused" - which means he wasn't in the chamber, reportedly due to a family emergency. This is why "early voting" needs to be expanded beyond the ballot box, to the legislative session.

Then there was State Senator Josh McKoon, who voted against Sunday alcohol sales in stores. He succeeded Seth Harp, who made the proposal one of his top priorities in recent years. I thought the younger generation had looser morals than their elders....

Josh McKoon told the Ledger-Enquirer he realized he was voting against the Muscogee County Republican Chair's proposal. But McKoon explained Sunday liquor sales in other states lead to more alcohol-related car crashes -- and do you know how hard it is to find an open automotive body shop on a Sunday afternoon?

The River City Report found a Josh McKoon campaign video in which he promoted the concept "that we still govern ourselves," as opposed to government answers to our problems. Yet he voted against a local-option referendum on Sunday alcohol sales. How ironic that a "red" Senator supports "blue laws."

But at least Josh McKoon is showing consistency in his voting. He's against Sunday alcohol sales in stores, as well as early voting on Sundays. We'll see if he expands this thinking next year, to propose a ban on Sunday sports events at Columbus Civic Center.

Wednesday's vote was a setback for the Georgia Christian Coalition, which seemed to have put enough pressure on Georgia lawmakers to kill the bill. The coalition may have forgotten a principle from the Bible. This State Senate is full of "new wineskins," which are ready for any newfangled concoction which comes along.

Seth Harp told WRBL Columbus voters are likely to support Sunday sales of alcohol in stores, since right now they can "cross the 14th Street bridge.... to Piggly Wiggly" to buy beer in Phenix City. Clearly Harp hasn't crossed that bridge much lately -- because it's been a pedestrian bridge for almost a decade, with drivers using 13th Street.

Columbus Council will have to approve a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales in stores. Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson indicated Wednesday she hasn't heard from any Councilors who support the question. Translation: if they're not taking a stand, she doesn't have to take one either.

All cities and counties would have to limit the time alcohol is sold in stores on Sundays. The Senate bill only allows sales between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. If you want wine earlier than that on a Sunday, there's a simple two-word answer - communion service.

(Perhaps it's just as well Georgia had Sunday alcohol sales in stores. TV networks certainly haven't stopped beer commercials during Sunday football and basketball games.)

The Georgia Senate will have a "make-up" bill to consider Friday, in the wake of the alcohol sales vote. It would require all convicted drunk drivers to have breathalysers installed in their cars. There could be a fringe benefit from this - as men quit going overboard on using cologne.

By the way, Wednesday was the annual Blogger's Day at the Georgia Legislature - and again this year, this blog received NO advance notice or invitation. Really now! I haven't cracked a single joke here about the disaster survivors in Japan....

Let's see what else IS fit to joke about, from Wednesday's news:

+ Fort Benning showed off its newly-opened access point at Harmony Church Road. It has four lanes, a separate entrance for trucks, a small 911 center - why, it'll be perfect for a bigger SOA Watch rally in November.

+ The ribbon was cut for a new pavilion at Wynnton Arts Academy, built in part by Fort Benning soldiers. From what I saw on WLTZ, there's plenty of unvarnished wood for fifth-graders to paint between now and mid-May.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) was the end of the season for Alabama State's men. They were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Texas-San Antonio 70-61, and actually ended with a losing record. Now I'm wondering if Alabama missed the tournament because it won too many games.

+ The Charlotte Observer reported former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton had a private workout with the Carolina Panthers. Now hold on here - hasn't the National Football League locked out its players? Or did Newton use that big endorsement contract to buy a leadership role with the players' union?

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