One of Savannah's favorite spring events is the annual Earth Day celebration in Forsyth Park, which always has a particularly fun and easygoing vibe.

For a good overview of what to expect this Saturday, check out Patrick Rodgers' story this issue.
As part of our Earth Day coverage, Patrick also contributes a breakdown of environmental legislation - or anti-environmental legislation, depending on how one might look at some of the bills - that came out of this year's just-concluded session of the General Assembly.

We also feature a column by area environmental activist Dave Kyler focusing on a bill allowing local governments to create dedicated reservoirs for private developments - which impresses me as a remarkably short-sighted move given Georgia's recent history of high-profile, acrimonious disputes with neighboring states over water supply issues.

In non-environmental news, as you've likely heard by now the state legislature also managed to pass a bill giving municipalities the right to allow citizens to vote on whether to allow Sunday retail sales of alcoholic beverages.

To clarify for those who haven't tuned into this all the way: This doesn't mean Sunday sales are now allowed. It means cities and/or counties (there's some difference of opinion as to which are the key entities) will be allowed to put the issue on the ballot for a citizen vote.

It also doesn't mean the issue must necessarily be put on the ballot at all.

Clearly, Sunday sales are long overdue in Georgia - one of only three states left in the U.S. where it's prohibited. While half a loaf is certainly better than none, this legislation is far from a silver bullet answer to the situation.

Obviously, local control was the only practical and effective way to overcome opposition to Sunday sales by Georgia's waning but still very powerful church lobby. But keep in mind that the way the legislature handled things leaves much open to even further politicking.

What I'm saying is: It's not a done deal yet.

And for those saying, "Sunday sales is a no-brainer, surely elected officials won't oppose it," well... you know the historic relationship between politicians and brains, don't you?

As I mentioned, we're still trying to clear up a certain amount of confusion as to who actually puts the measure on the ballot. It's not entirely clear, which will surprise no one with any experience with the General Assembly.

Given the historic power of county governments in Georgia and the fact that most large population centers in the state (except Savannah) feature consolidated city/county government, you'd think it would be counties that would be in charge of the ballot measure.

On the other hand, since the City of Savannah handles liquor licenses within city limits - and we don't have consolidated government - you could make the case that City Council would vote to put Sunday sales on the ballot for city residents to vote on in turn.

(Insert snarky comment about the imbibing tendencies of your local alderman/alderwoman here.)

While the Sunday sales vote in the legislature shows the increasing power of Atlanta suburbanites vs. Southern Baptists downstate, anyone who thinks the local church lobby in Savannah has weakened isn't paying attention.

With a mayoral election coming up, it will be interesting to see who jockeys for that church vote, who jumps on the Sunday sales bandwagon, and who punts.

Given the cast of characters involved, anything could happen. That's why it pays to be as informed a voter as you can be, regardless of where you stand on the issue.





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About The Author

Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for ten years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more

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Connect Today 10.22.2016

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