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Downtown Grocery Store Bill Passes


A bill that would pave the way for a long-awaited grocery store in downtown Athens passed the state Senate this afternoon and looks good to go in and the House on the last day of this year’s legislative session.

House Bill 517, sponsored by Reps. Spencer Frye (D-Athens), Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) and Regina Quick (R-Athens) would allow Athens-Clarke County to legalize retail beer and wine sales near the University of Georgia campus. 

The Senate added a provision requiring 85 percent of a store’s floor space to be devoted to food in order to sell beer and wine near campus, an addition designed to keep out liquor stores.

“Kudos to Sen. (Frank) Ginn for carrying in the Senate,” Williams said. “I will ask House to agree as soon as it comes over from Senate. We are close to sending this to Gov Deal.”

UPDATE: The revised bill passed the House and now goes to Deal for his signature.

Gov. Nathan Deal also brokered a deal this morning to cap lobbyist gifts to legislators at $75. The Senate favored a $100 cap, and the House wanted no gifts to individual lawmakers at all. (There are still loopholes for groups of legislators and travel expenses).

Still no word on whether the legislature will legalize guns on college campuses.