Georgians would be able to purchase alcohol at restaurants and wineries on Sunday mornings under a proposal approved Tuesday by state senators.
The Senate voted 38-18 in favor of allowing on-premise consumption to begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Off-premise sales, such as those at supermarkets, would remain illegal until 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.
If the bill passes the House, earlier sales would have to be approved in referendums on the local level.
Republican state Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga said he is personally against expanding alcohol sales but is in favor of the bill because it gives local communities the ability to decide whether or not to allow earlier sales.
“If this ever came to Chickamauga, … I would want my constituents to have the right to vote,” Mullis said. “I support the right to the ballot.”
Restaurant groups have been pushing the so-called “brunch bill,” arguing that it is unfair that facilities such as Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium do not face the same restrictions.
GOP state Sen. Bill Heath of Bremen spoke against the proposal. Many problems that legislators are called to fix are rooted in alcohol abuse, he said.
State Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, quoted the state motto of “wisdom, justice, moderation” in opposing state Sen. Renee Unterman’s measure.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue, we’re losing our moderation,” he said.