Word is that State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) is arguing – post-caucus meeting – that local referenda on Sunday alcohol sales violates the United States Constitution. Uh, seriously?
Others, such as Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R- Sharpsburg, said he believes it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to decide for the state. Georgia should not be a state where every issue is decided by referendums, he said.
Seabaugh said he would not vote in support of the legislation.
His absurd claims of unconstitutionality aside, Seabaugh does have a point about the legislature punting tough issues to voters. We’ve seen that year after year, whether it’s funding for trauma care or tax hikes to fund transportation. I’m not in favor of these things, but these guys are elected to make these decisions. Why have a legislature if they are going to constantly defer to voters rather than cast tough votes?
Anyway, the caucus meeting gave Senators an opportunity to voice their opinions. No consensus was reached (not that they were trying to do so), but leadership will do a vote count later today to see if support is there to bring the bill forward.
[UPDATE] I spoke with Sen. Seabaugh about his comments. He says, contrary to my sources (who could have just misunderstood what Seabaugh said), that he has only raised the question about referendum because the state Constitution gives the legislature the ability to regulate alcohol.
Article III, Section VI, Paragraph VII of the Georgia Constitution states, “The State of Georgia shall have full and complete authority to regulate alcoholic beverages and to regulate, restrict, or prohibit activities involving alcoholic beverages. This regulatory authority of the state shall include all such regulatory authority as is permitted to the states under the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This regulatory authority of the state is specifically delegated to the counties and municipalities of the state for the purpose of regulating, restricting , or prohibiting the exhibition of nudity, partial nudity, or depictions of nudity in connection with the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages; and such delegated regulatory authority may be exercised by the adoption and enforcement of regulatory ordinances by the counties and municipalities of this state. A general law exercising such regulatory authority shall control over conflicting provisions of any local ordinance but shall not preempt any local ordinance provisions not in direct conflict with general law.”
The term “regulation” is open ended. Regulations can be defined by statutory law, including allowing counties and municipalities the ability to hold a referendum on the issue. Seabaugh’s question is weak.