Legislative Notebook: Package store taste tests corked for now

February 5, 2014 

A Senate panel tabled a bill Wednesday that would allow package stores to offer beer and wine samples to customers amid concerns from the small liquor store lobby that says it’s too much liability for stores.

Brewpub tastings, which no one objected to, are in the same boat however, because they would be legalized in the same bill.

The package store provision only allows owners to do what grocery stores already do, said state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, the sponsor of Senate Bill 335.

But Stony McGill of the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association, representing some 500 Georgia package stores, said his clients would have to take on liability that could drive up their insurance rates. Only certain large players could afford it, he said.

Jones, an insurance agency owner, said any retailer has a choice to offer samples or not and could be insured accordingly.

The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee action set the bill aside while the two sides work on a compromise.

High school sports organizer reorganization

A new bill in the state Senate aims to lay down some new rules for the organization that governs high school sports in Georgia.

Senate Bill 343 says schools cannot join a sports governing body unless that body’s board members are school employees and are under term limits, among other measures.

The Georgia High School Association is the most obvious target of the legislation. It governs sports and championships for everything from football to riflery.

The bill has a powerful sponsor in Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga. A hearing has yet to be set.

Female leadersto be honored March 5

The Georgia Legislative Women’s Caucus will celebrate female leaders from across the state at a March 5 ceremony and dinner, rebooting a Women’s History Month tradition for the group of lawmakers, said state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon.

Georgia first lady Sandra Deal, a retired educator, will be among the honorees.

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