ATLANTA — Fans of Sunday brunch in Georgia may be heartened to know that a measure called “the brunch bill” passed a House committee Tuesday. It’s another milestone in a bill that has stalled for years at the Capitol – but could pass this year.
Brunch is about more than a late morning weekend meal. In Georgia, the politics of brunch are about booze, and whether it can be served on Sunday mornings in restaurants.
"We do think it’s very popular – not just for the alcohol, but on Mother's Day, people gathering around, it’s a good communal time," said Daniel New, a restaurant association lobbyist who is one of the Capitol’s leading brunch backers.
In a state that was one of the last in the nation to approve Sunday sales at liquor stores seven years ago, Sunday morning restaurant sales of alcohol still remain a touchy issue for some who view Sundays as sacrosanct.
"The issue is how much is enough. Do we not have enough alcohol availability?" asked Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, who has successfully lobbied against the brunch bill for years.
"One of the ways to keep the problems of alcohol not affecting our society as bad is to not increase that availability any more," Griffin said. "There’s enough out there already."
Georgia’s brunch bill has been bottled up in Capitol politics for years. Some powerful lawmakers felt that the Sunday liquor sales law they passed seven years ago was radical enough.
But this year, the brunch backlog broke a bit. The bill passed the Senate, then made it through a House committee Tuesday. It is closer than ever now to becoming law.
It would replace the current 12:30 p.m. Sunday sales start time with an 11 a.m. start. And it would require a voter referendum to enact the brunch bill in each local jurisdiction.
"We’re excited and optimistic as always and we just hope this time we’re successful," New said Tuesday. He is among the backers who hope that this spring, they can stage a proper celebration.