GADA Priority Activities

What are the priority activities of GADA?

GADA’S #1 PRIORITY IS TO PROTECT LIQUOR RETAILERS’ INTERESTS IN:

  • The Legislative Processes of the Georgia General Assembly where laws are made that govern this Industry
  • Regulatory Processes of the following State Agencies that impact liquor stores:
  1. Georgia Department of Revenue
  2. Georgia Department of Banking & Finance
  3. Georgia Lottery Corporation
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
  5. Georgia Department of Agriculture

GADA’S #2 PRIORITY IS TO EXTEND THE RESULTS OF THIS REPRESENTATION:

Through Member Communication and Technical Support. Communication includes timely notification of operational changes brought about by new laws passed by the State Legislature and regulations imposed by various State Agencies [1 through 5 of (B) above.] Technical Support is available to Members with questions or problems involving legal or technical interpretation of Georgia’s laws and regulations governing alcohol beverages, check cashing for fees, and the Georgia Lottery.

GADA’S #3 PRIORITY IS TO INCREASE MEMBERS’ BOTTOM LINE PROFITS THROUGH:

Development of Group Property/Casualty Insurance and Credit Card Processing Programs that afford the best services at reduced rates and require Membership for participation. Contact the GADA office for more information about these money saving group programs.

#1 (A) PRIORITY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The Georgia General Assembly

The Georgia Legislature convenes annually in January for 40 working days that ordinarily extend into late March.  During each two year term, on average, approximately 50 to 60 proposed laws will be introduced that directly affect the alcohol beverage industry and more specifically … your store.  The majority of these proposals affect alcohol beverages only, while a half dozen or so will affect all retail merchants in general.

Year after year, it is necessary for GADA to lobby for the defeat of legislation, such as the proposed laws that we indicate as defeated in the legislative portion of this profile.  Many of these proposals keep coming back – the verbiage may be verbatim or altered slightly, and the sponsor may be the same or a new legislator, but the intent is the same.  If this Association falters and loses these DEFENSIVE BATTLES, the hardships presented by most of these proposals will be quickly realized – only then will the importance of a good defense be fully appreciated by most retailers.

On the other hand, when GADA’s OFFENSIVE BATTLES are successful, all liquor retailers benefit and share the rewards of these efforts!  Without GADA the majority of issues listed in the “Offensive” section of this profile would not be realities.  And in some instances, while the law would have passed anyway, the outcome and impact on liquor dealers would have been far more detrimental had it not been for GADA’s influence.  When it is inevitable that the industry is going to have a “hard pill to swallow,” GADA works very diligently to make it as tolerable as possible for the retail segment of the industry.

Additionally, some ideas for new laws are never elevated to legislative form, simply because the visibility and strength of GADA in the legislative arena are more than sufficient to discourage those who would like to see dramatic changes in this industry.  For instance, Georgia is one of the few states that still allows for the sale of distilled spirits in liquor stores only.  There are those who would like to see this privilege struck down to allow for statewide chain operations or for the individual ownership of stores in excess of two.  In this and similar instances, the GADA is a PROTECTOR of the INDEPENDENT RETAIL LIQUOR DEALER in GEORGIA.

PRIORITY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

In recent years, GADA has been directly responsible for many changes in Revenue Department Regulations beneficial to retailers both in: (1) the repeal, revision, and/or clarification of existing regulations, and (2) in the enactment and adoption of new and necessary regulations, particularly those addressing store operating criteria. These efforts have expanded the list of related items which may be offered for sale in all liquor stores when it became apparent the “divided stores” would no longer be authorized. Additionally, this Association has been in the forefront of assisting the Department in constructing and refining new rules necessary to accommodate profitable, related customer services and products. Moreover, Revenue Department “policy” is regularly communicated to the Membership in concise terms. In all situations that expand liquor store privileges, it is imperative that we do not jeopardize the fine line of limitations on liquor stores that protects the exclusivity of “liquor in liquor stores” only. Although it took almost two decades, GADA does not hesitate to take much of the credit for the final and ultimate enforcement of Georgia’s two store license limitation law. The foundation and intent of this crucial law were seriously threatened by collective “liquor store ownership interest” – clearly in violation of the law until 1991 when the State, through threat of legal action, finally forced these groups to divest interest in excess of the legal limit. Protecting the integrity, stability, and enforcement of the two store limit law has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority of GADA.

Circumstances leading up through 2007 have dictated that GADA again apply pressure to ensure that the integrity of this law is protected. If discount chain operations should succeed in repealing or negating Georgia’s two store limit law, the virtual survival of independent liquor store ownership will be in serious jeopardy! Of equal importance is the determination of Revenue Department officials to ensure that this law is not violated! Leadership and Supervisory Personnel changes within the Revenue Department in recent years have required that GADA consistently stay on top of the regulatory process, including interpretation and policy decisions that are consistent with the intent of laws and regulations, and subsequent enforcement practices.

“Protecting the integrity, stability, and enforcement of the two store limit law has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority of GADA.”

GADA routinely represents package liquor interest when the Department proposes new or revised regulations, and will work with Department officials in an effort to ensure that all retailers are treated equally. Likewise, we will continue to make retailers aware of the intent of existing rules, and the restrictions they impose, or the rights and privileges they afford. With 85 years of combined experience, your Association staff has the ability to clarify and explain alcohol beverage laws and regulations in clear, concise, and comprehensible terms.

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF BANKING & FINANCE

The Association’s activity in this regulatory agency is prompted by two factors: (1) Protecting the interest of liquor stores that wish to cash checks for fees, and (2) Maintaining a working relationship on legislative changes in laws impacting all merchants who accept customer checks for purchase amounts, without consideration of “fees.”

Most of GADA’s efforts within the Banking Department are preceded by lobbying activity in the Georgia General Assembly. Two major exemptions in Georgia’s “1990 Check Cashing” law translated into similar exemptions in Banking Department regulations. A concerted lobby effort by the Association was necessary in order to (1) defeat measures prohibiting liquor stores from charging a fee to cash checks, and (2) in 2007, to provide for clarifying licensing requirements of the Department of Banking & Finance. Once a law is passed, the responsible regulatory agency then goes about detailing the specifics of the criteria authorized by the law.

Although some of our Members have reported occasional and sporadic problems with subordinate Banking & Finance Department personnel, the Association’s working relationship with top officials within this Department has been exceptionally cooperative.

GEORGIA LOTTERY CORPORATION

The Georgia Lottery Corporation was established by the General Assembly to function differently from other state agencies, however, their principles of operation and impact on vendor-retailers are very similar to all other state agencies charged with overseeing “business” practices of the various industries in Georgia. Because of their special independence granted by the Legislature, GADA was supportive of a legislative amendment in the Georgia Lottery for Education ACT to require that the GLC recognize and appoint the Retail Advisory Board – consisting of retailers!

During the first three (3) years of lottery activity in Georgia, five (5) GADA member retailers represented package liquor store interest on the Retail Advisory Board of GLC. As a direct result of this Advisory Board’s strenuous efforts, (and particularly liquor interest on that Board), Georgia was the first state in the country to implement vendor compensation for “cashing” lottery tickets during the first year of operation, and the list of retailer incentives continues to grow. Efforts to improve retailer/vendor compensation are on-going.

COMMUNICATION & TECHNICAL SUPPORT

COMMUNICATIONS

GADA Members are the most well-informed retailers in Georgia. Before, during, and after the fact, with ample opportunity for input, Members are made fully aware of proposals that will affect the operation of their businesses. Accurate issue-oriented letters and electronic notices via e-mail are provided on a consistent and timely basis. Members are strongly encouraged to provide the GADA office with their updated e-mail addresses, thereby providing the ability to download an average of 100 Industry News articles each week.

“Laws and regulations are constantly changing, sometimes requiring changes, and sometimes allowing changes for in-store operation. GADA Members who read their mail are always the first to know … some non-member retailers never know!”

Communication works both ways – as above, from the Association office to the individual Member, and vice versa – from the Member to GADA. While the Association’s Board can generally come to a clear, definitive position on most issues, other proposals sometimes present a clear cut difference of opinion. On all such controversial issues, Member surveys or Member votes during annual meetings provide the answer. Whether the issue is before the Board of Directors or before the Membership, “Majority Rule” is always the deciding factor! Retailer opinion and information are vital, and individual Member communication with the GADA staff is encouraged and enhanced through an incoming statewide toll-free 800 number and a dedicated 24-hour fax line

TECHNICAL SUPPORT & PUBLIC RELATIONS

It is a complex legal and regulatory environment in which Georgia’s retail liquor dealers operate. Operational criteria is complicated and intertwined within the various segments of the industry and within the framework of various governmental agencies. GADA is fortunate in having an Executive Director who is recognized as one of the most well-versed and knowledgeable experts on the technicalities of alcohol beverage laws and regulations in the state. The GADA full-time staff represents more than 85 years of combined trade association management experience. Fast, concise, and accurate interpretation and advice in layman’s terms are available to Members upon request. Complex situations and issues that are presented to the staff and do not have simple answers are routed through appropriate channels for prompt disposition. In some instances, legislative and/or regulatory revision may even be required to satisfactorily conclude an issue.
Member stores are routinely furnished with all signs and notices that require posting, as well as public information signs on subjects as: “Drinking Age Warnings,” “Open on Election Days,” “Tobacco Sales” restrictions, etc. Miscellaneous support includes notification to and communication with Magistrate Judges & Law Enforcement Agencies regarding changes in legal criteria governing retail merchants in general and specifically alcohol beverage retailers. GADA’s staff and Members of the Board provide statistical information and testimony before various Committees on the subjects of alcohol consumption, abuse, restriction, taxation, and public revenues. Statewide letters to editors of local newspapers regarding industry related subjects, pro-industry press releases and interviews, speeches to civic organizations, and “institutional” newspaper advertising are initiated as needed.