So by now you probably know that Senate Bill 10 passed (SB 10 is outlined at the bottom of this entry for the uninitiated). Finally. Many Georgians will be allowed to vote in November on whether or not to allow retail package sales of beer, wine & liquor on Sundays. Others will have to wait until the next scheduled election in their municipality, which could be as late as November 2012. Sucks to be them.
But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Today I want to tell you about the little civics lesson I received by following the live feed of the Georgia House of Representatives Session on April 12.
Holy crap, people. The GA House is a clusterf*ck.
SB 10 was presented late in the day on Tuesday the 12th. As I recall, it was after 9 p.m., but I’m not sure of the exact time (alcohol was involved). Anyway, I had been watching the live feed with great boredom, just waiting for SB 10 to be called. When I finally heard the magic words, I immediately perked up.
The bill was introduced and the Speaker asked “will there be any questions”. Due to the late hour and the number of issues left to discuss, several Representatives mumbled (not too quietly) “Noooooooo”, which I thought was all kinds of awesome. But alas, several Reps had questions. There was the normal back & forth until one Representative (and I wish to God I knew who it was, it was an older lady dressed to-the-nines in her ridiculous Sunday-go-to-meeting hat) stood up and said…and I shit you not…”Is this the jobs bill”? Jesus. H. Christ. He just read the damn thing in its’ entirety. Did it *sound* like the jobs bill?
There was a moment of silence in the chamber and then the Rep who read the bill from the well said “No.” Crazy lady, still standing, replied “Will it create jobs?” Rep in the well said “Ummm. It could.” Crazy lady sat down. Seriously. The people we elected to represent us in the GA House can’t even be bothered to pay attention to the issue on which they’re voting. And it’s not like it was some bullshit bill about waste management or renaming a street. It’s one of the most controversial bills introduced this year. It received an enormous amount of press coverage. Everyone from the Christian Coalition to the Liquor Lobby had piped in on it. So no, lady. It’s not the jobs bill.
After the questions, we got to the Speech-a-fying. Two reps made rational comments about how the bill isn’t about religion or alcohol and was really focused on citizen’s rights. One rep asked to be excused from the vote (big baby!). We had the requisite son-of-an-alcoholic Rep who spoke about how his shitty childhood justifies his opposition to the bill (apparently his Dad was always sober on Sundays because he was too dumb to plan ahead). We had the standard Christian Coalition kiss-ass make his point. Blah, blah, blah. Not exactly “must see TV”.
But later, I heard the most convincing argument yet against the bill. A representative stood in the well and said that his issue with the bill was that the Legislature was pushing decisions down to the citizen’s because they were too chickenshit to make the decision themselves (I’m paraphrasing here). It actually made sense to me. His point was that if they’re pushing this issue out for a vote, why aren’t all decisions made by local referendum? It was a valid point, but it was made much too late. And frankly, I’ll take my rights however I can get them and local referendum works just fine for me.
The bill was finally put to a vote, and easily passed 127 to 44. Not even close. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes. It was equal parts riveting and appalling to watch. I stopped watching the stream immediately after the bill passed, but I still wonder if crazy lady stood up when the jobs bill was introduced and said “Is this the liquor bill”?
From the Georgia Senate Website:
Senate Bill 10: A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Code Section 3-3-7 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the local authorization and regulation of sales of alcoholic beverages on Sunday, so as to provide that in each county or municipality in which package sales of only malt beverages and wine by retailers is lawful, the governing authority of the county or municipality, as appropriate, may authorize package sales by a retailer of malt beverages and wine on Sundays from 12:30 P.M. until 11:30 P.M., if approved by referendum; to provide procedures; to provide for applicability; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.