R Street Continues Push for Relaxing Open Container Laws


R Street has long supported relaxing open container laws as a way to both create safer drinking environments and revitalize urban spaces. R Street’s Director of State Government Affairs, Marc Hyden, who resides in Georgia, has led the charge in urging more Peach State cities to liberalize their open container laws, and he recently supported testimony in favor of a proposal to do so in Marietta, Georgia:

Over the past several years, the state of Georgia has been updating its alcohol policies to bring them in line with the rest of the country. Indeed, many Georgia cities—Alpharetta, Acworth, Canton, Duluth, Kennesaw, Powder Springs, Smyrna, Stockbridge, Savannah, etc.—have already approved open-air drinking districts, which authorize drinking in specifically designated areas.

These endeavors go hand in hand with the current national movement to permit open containers in entertainment areas…

The problem with prohibitions of open-air drinking is that they might lead to adverse public health effects. The Sport Journal — a peer-reviewed academic periodical — highlighted that some individuals binge drink before alcohol-free events so that they can maintain their buzz for the duration of the event. If these people could drink at the event, then they may not feel the urge to adopt such behavior. Instead, they could nurse their beverages more responsibly over a lengthier period of time…

Furthermore, the creation of an open-air drinking district in Marietta could bring about an economic windfall. It is not a coincidence that a host of new open-air drinking districts have developed across the state. Rather, it seems that open-air drinking districts are good for business. If they are, then relaxing unnecessarily strict alcohol ordinances will attract more development. Beyond this payoff, open-air drinking districts may lure tourists as well as conferences, festivals, concerts and other events, helping local companies thrive and increasing tax revenue…

More here.

Why Georgia Cities Should Embrace Open Container Laws


R Street has voiced support for modest expansions of open container laws (or, alternatively, open container zones) in cities as a way to spark urban renewal and allow citizens to have responsible fun outdoors. R Street’s Marc Hyden writes for Insider Advantage about why more cities in Georgia should embrace such an approach:

Anything worth doing is worth taking your time to do, according to an old proverb. While there’s a kernel of truth to this platitude, the state of Georgia apparently took this advice to the extreme. Consider this: The United States ratified the 21st Amendment to repeal Prohibition in 1933. Georgia, on the other hand, still hasn’t ratified it. But that may change soon, because Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, recently pre-filed HR 4 to formally approve the 21st Amendment.

Thankfully, this isn’t the only long-overdue alcohol regulation that is finally getting attention in Georgia. Indeed, the Peach State has been gradually liberalizing its puritanical alcohol statutes. Lawmakers have relaxed regulations on Sunday alcohol sales and on breweries and distilleries, and have enacted ordinances permitting open container districts in AlpharettaAcworthCantonDuluthSmyrnaStockbridgeSavannah, etc. These efforts coincide with the ongoing national movement to allow open-air drinking in entertainment districts across the country. Now, it appears that Kennesaw might be the next city to modernize its alcohol laws by creating an open container district. There are many reasons why it should consider such a move…

Read the rest here.

UPDATE: Kennesaw, Georgia’s city council heeded Marc Hyden’s call and has officially approved two open container districts within city limits.

Georgia Could Be Latest State to Expand Sunday Sales

Just off the heels of Indiana repealing its Sunday blue law, Georgia could be on the brink of passing a "brunch bill" that would expand on-premise alcohols sales to Sunday morning. According to the AP, the bill would allow restaurants and wineries to serve alcohol starting at 11 a.m.:

A proposal to allow Georgians to purchase alcohol at restaurants and wineries on Sunday mornings is headed to the governor's desk.

House lawmakers voted 97-64 on Monday to allow on-premise consumption to begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

If the bill is signed into law, earlier sales would have to be approved in local referendums.

Gov. Nathan Deal's spokeswoman declined to say whether the governor intends to sign the measure.

GOP Rep. Meagan Hanson of Brookhaven says earlier sales would generate an additional $11 million in state and local tax revenue.

Off-premise sales, such as those at supermarkets, would remain illegal until 12:30 p.m. on Sundays...

Read more here.




Georgia Governor Signs Booze Bill Into Law, Allowing Direct Sales at Breweries and Distilleries

Georgia recently enacted a set of reforms that will allow breweries and distilleries to sell their products directly to consumers, as well as allowing them to offer on-site sales of booze to visitors. As Eater: Atlanta reports:

"Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just made sweeping changes to the state’s alcohol regulations official, signing Senate Bill 85 into law on Monday. The legislation allows breweries and distilleries sell directly to consumers, and it will go into effect September 1...

The bill passed both houses of the state legislature and was sent to Governor Deal’s desk in MarchFirst introduced in the Georgia Senate in January, it updates state law to allow breweries to sell 3,000 barrels of their beer per year directly to customers. Upon Senate passage, the House took up a substitute that added language to allow local distilleries to directly sell 500 barrels of spirits per year. For off-site consumption, thirsty Georgians will be able to purchase up to a case of beer and three 750 ml bottles of liquor at a time from brewers and distillers, respectively.

The new law loosens regulations that required the state’s breweries and distilleries to distribute their products through wholesalers... The most noticeable change for local booze aficionados may be how breweries and distilleries offer drinks for on-site consumption. No longer will they be forced to offer paid tours of their facilities that come with limited samples of their beverages..."

Read the whole thing here:

This reform is a marked improvement over the previous status quo in Georgia, in which brewers were merely allowed to offer a "free souvenir" of up to 72oz. of take-home beer to visitors who paid for a brewery tour, as discussed by R Street's Jarrett Dieterle in a piece for The Federalist


Think Prohibition Is Over? Nope. It’s Still Making Booze Pricy And Hard To Get

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle on the South's antiquated liquor laws:

Even though it’s one of the country’s freest and most pro-business regions, the South is well-known for having some of the worst alcohol laws in America. Georgia recently made headlines for implementing a few modest changes to their backwards alcohol laws, but a closer look at these changes shows just how watered-down Southern reform efforts have been....