The following is taken from a testimony given on January 30 on behalf of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee opposing the expansion of Sunday alcohol sales as contained in Senate Bill 17. This bill eventually was passed out of the Senate by a 38 to 18 vote. See the vote here.
The bill is now in the House waiting on a committee hearing and a potential vote before March 29th. Please contact your House Member and ask them to vote NO to expanding Alcohol sales on Sunday!
The following is a summary of testimony given on behalf of Georgia Baptists. My comments begin at the 20:23 mark.
Georgia Baptists have always opposed the expansion of the sale of alcohol, particularly on Sundays! Here is one of the principles I would like for you to consider on this issue: increased availability equals increased sales, increased sales equals increased consumption, increased consumption equals problems that are associated with drinking alcohol!
I don’t think I have to have a lot of statistics to prove this. There would not be as many lobbyists for the alcohol industry here for these kinds of hearings, if the availability of alcohol did not equal more sales.
I have personal knowledge on this subject. I have a son-in-law who is a mayor and has had to deal with those on his council wanting to expand sales on Sunday. I have been a Baptist preacher in the State of Georgia for almost 34 years and know what it is like to have fought alcohol expansion. I have conducted a great deal of counseling in relationship to the problems of alcohol and the matters related to it in families.
Alcohol is very problematic in our society. Take, for example, the fact that every day 28 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This equates to one death every 51 minutes. Also, I might add that the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
When it comes to levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for young people than older people. Among drivers with BAC levels of .08 percent or higher involved in fatal crashes in 2015, nearly three in 10 were between 21 and 24 years of age (28 percent). The next two largest groups were ages 25 to 34 (27 percent) and 35 to 44 (23 percent). (Click on previous link, then “Risk Factors” tab)
My point in sharing these statistics is to demonstrate once again that accessibility equals sales, sales equals consumption and consumption equals problems that go along with alcohol! The percentage of alcohol consumed will exponentially increase whatever the problems are that are associated with it. Therefore, Georgia Baptists maintain that as a public health and safety issue alone, we should be concerned about how dangerous drinking alcohol is.
Now, as a matter of fact, when I am attending committee hearings here at the Capitol, I never see anyone drinking alcohol. Let me tell you why: because it impairs your judgment and it is dangerous! Those are the same consequences seen when alcohol is increased in our communities. There is not any social ill in our society today that would be helped if more alcohol were infused into the equation.
I have an article from the Washington Post that says Alcohol is still the deadliest drug in the United States. You see, too many people in our county forget that alcohol is not just a drink, it is a drug! The point is there are dangers in the use of alcohol that none of us can afford to ignore.
I know it is somewhat humorous, but I will close with an observation from Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” that goes something like this: If you give them 30 mph, they will go 35 mph, if you give them 35 mph, they will go 40 mph and if you give them 40 mph, they will go 45 mph!
When I think about the easing of regulations on alcohol sales in Georgia, I think about that quote. When it comes to the sale of alcohol, it never seems to be enough!
In earlier days it was said by those in favor of alcohol sales that they respected the faith community enough to not sell it on Sunday. Then, the citizens of Georgia were told that if alcohol sales were allowed on Sunday, it would not be sold until after 12:30 p.m. And now, here is legislation that says the sale of alcohol will be even earlier than 12:30 p.m. It just seems like it is never enough!
This is the reality of our present situation. There are those who are for expanding the sale of alcohol on Sundays and there are those who simply do not think it is right to do so. We hope as a committee you will side with those who say, enough is enough.