Erasing ‘Blue Laws’ to Help Economy February 22, 2009

Erasing ‘Blue Laws’ to Help Economy

Hello everyone. Trina here.

I just ran across an article that I wanted to share with you. It grabbed my attention because it is about “Blue Laws.” I can remember when I first moved to Texas several years ago (I don’t live there now) that I was floored to learn that I couldn’t go shopping on Sundays. I was a teenager at the time and I wanted to shop! I was speechless when I learned why I couldn’t – “Blue Law.” It seemed so absurd to me. Ever since then, I have had a certain contempt for “Blue Laws.”

Now, on to the article…

There are several states that still have “Blue Laws” that place restrictions on the sale of alcohol on Sundays. It seems that the majority (if not all) of the proponents of these restrictions are religious folk.

There are even some counties within states that are “dry” counties that do not allow for the sale of alcohol – ever.

What some states are now becoming painfully aware of (in light of our economic crisis), is what those dry counties have known for some time – people take their business elsewhere. If they want alcohol on Sunday, they will get it (whenever feasible).

There are  states now that are setting out to repeal “Blue Law” restrictions on alcohol sales. Those states are Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Alabama and Minnesota. Connecticut, in particular, has lost money to neighboring states because of their laws. Even if people don’t go elsewhere, some state officials feel that the restrictions are costing them big bucks in tax revenues.

According to an article in TIME, these states have strong voter support for repealing these laws, much to the dismay of certain religious groups. Jim Beck, president of the Georgia Christian Coalition said:

During times of economic stress, our families are under enough pressure. I don’t think we need to add even more pressure to those families by passing this law.

But it was pointed out in the article that:

…the President [FDR] recognized that legally procured cocktails were the way to keep spirits high when Americans were trying to get used to putting their trust into the nation’s crumbling banking system again.

Regardless of what your stance is on drinking alcohol, you have to see that this is just another lingering example of how the religiously motivated impose their beliefs on the people of the nation through the law. Hopefully, though, it will soon come to pass that “Blue Laws,” no matter what they regard, disappear from our law books.

And, for the record… I don’t drink alcohol.

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  • Luther Weeks

    I am from Connecticut – the “Nutmeg” State because my ancestor Yankee peddlers pawned off wooden nutmegs on unsuspecting New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians.

    People go to MA to buy booze because it is cheaper. They go on Sunday because they are not working or otherwise partying. (many even manage to fit in church too). Worse some I suspect buy booze in MA on Saturday, even Monday, Tuesday…

    We have always sold gas on Sunday. But there are few gas stations near the MA border, because gas is cheaper there too.

    But hey any excuse to say we are doing something about the huge state deficit problem! And it is supported by the big box liquor outlets as it will help put the mom and pop shops out of business.

  • Jamie

    Oh it’s about time!

    I live in Texas and couldn’t believe these ridiculous laws when I moved here. You also can’t buy alcohol before noon on Saturdays.

  • I am from Arkansas and we still have those Sunday blue laws and dry counties. (I can remember as a child, a group tried to get a petition with enough signatures to make the county wet. I remember peeing in a bathroom at church while I read a flyer listing all the dangers of alcohol and hoping it didn’t pass. It didn’t, and I now happily live in a wet county.) We just buy what we need for Sundays on Saturdays. It has only ever affected my alcohol consumption once or twice. And people in dry counties drive crazy distances and just buy a whole bunch of it to last for awhile, so you are right: people who want it, get it (I had a friend once who bought an entire TRUNK full of it). It is ridiculous.

    In AR, you can get liquor by the glass at a restaurant on Sunday, but you can’t buy the alcohol to take home with you from anywhere.

    Gotta love Arkansas.

  • Justin jm

    I checked Wiki to see if any blue laws exist in Wisconsin: never have. I’m not surprised, as drinking’s one of the few things to do in this state.

    During times of economic stress, our families are under enough pressure. I don’t think we need to add even more pressure to those families by passing this law.

    Nobody’s pressurin’ ya to drink. Does Jim Beck think that husbands and wives can’t abstain from drinking? Maybe they can’t in Wisconsin. Like I said, it’s the state pastime.

  • One more case of my god runs your life.

  • “I checked Wiki to see if any blue laws exist in Wisconsin: never have. I’m not surprised, as drinking’s one of the few things to do in this state.”

    That’d be nice, except we’ve got the annoying tendency to close down the liqueur department at 9pm in my hometown. Not a big deal, except that’s where they keep the craft beers (which could be sold until midnight… if they weren’t behind a locked gate).

  • sam

    In MD, you can’t buy alcohol from a store unless it is attached to a bar.

  • mkb

    I grew up in Arkansas. When I just had to get out of the house on a Sunday I would walk to the local pharmacy and look at magazines or stationery, since that was all there was to shop for. 40 years later I still have stationery that I have not used.

    My guess is that Jim Beck is not as concerned with drinking on Sundays as he is concerned with the pressure on sales people to work on Sundays if stores are open.

  • Gabriel

    I still remember moving to Texas back in 1981 and being shocked by the absurdity of the blue laws.

    You couldn’t shop at stores on Sundays because that was the lord’s day and everyone should have the day off on Sunday. Except for restaurants and movie theaters. Fuck those workers. We need a place to go after church.

    You couldn’t buy alcohol in a grocery store.
    You couldn’t buy beer or wine in a liquor store.
    You couldn’t buy liquor in a beer and wine store.
    But all of these stores were available in drive through versions. Also you could drink and drive as long as you weren’t legally intoxicated.
    It was only recently that everyone in the car but the driver could be drinking.
    And you still have to wait until noon on Sunday to buy booze. Which pisses me off because I do my shopping on Sunday. Also you can’t buy liquor at all on Sunday.

    Die blue laws, die.

  • You should try some of the islands off the West coast of Scotland if you want to see Sunday weirdness done properly. My ex and I once stayed in a cottage on Harris which contained a note asking that we refrain from pretty much any activity including – specifically – hanging washing out to dry. I guess it would be too much to ask the big fella upstairs for a bit of wind on his day off 🙂

    I love my country but some of those West coast types are just wrong. Search for “wee frees” and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Valhar2000

    And, for the record… I don’t drink alcohol.

    I don’t drink either, and yet the imbecility of these laws seems manifest.

  • From what I have seen, the biggest proponents of keeping blue laws that ban selling booze on Sunday have been liquor store owners, not religious zealots, at least where I live.

    Here in Colorado they finally repealed the blue law against Sunday alcohol sales last year. The proposal to repeal the blue law had been re-introduced in pretty much every legislative session for a long time, always to be thwared by the liquor store lobby. By their thinking, people will buy pretty much the same abount of alcohol regardless of whether there is Sunday trading, and they will just stock up on Saturday. Thus, the added cost of opening on Sunday would not be offset by the increas on sales. Essentially the liquor store owners wanted to keep and anti-competative and anti-consumer law on the books. Last year, we had some rationality imposedc by the legislature.

    Even so, we still have a blue law against selling cars on Sunday here in Colorado. Same reason given–opening on sundays will not increas sales enough to offeset the costs of opening on sundays, so the very powerful car dealership lobby keesps the anti cmpetative anti-consumer law on the books.

  • Yet they’ll continuously claim they don’t cram their religion down anybody’s throat. What liars.

  • Sock

    Not being able to buy alcohol on Sundays drives me to drink.

  • Sandra

    Colorado repealed their blue law which banned the sale of alcohol on Sundays…about a year ago. However, there is still a law against selling used cars on Sundays… something to do with being “honest” on their gods day.

  • Elsa

    There’s a dry county near my hometown in Western PA. That county is home to an Amish population…and a Christian college. I’ve always wondered what goes on behind closed doors at that college.

  • Kc

    Here in North Dakota, the blue law says no business (except for grocery stores and pharmacies) can be open until noon on Sundays. That’s an improvement from when it changed in 1992, when no retail stores could be open on Sunday.

    There is also a cohabitation law here where it’s illegal for a man and woman to live in the same residence if they aren’t married to each other. It’s not enforced, but its still on the books.

    Both are completely ridiculous.

    And I won’t even get into what just passed in the ND House of Representatives, let’s just say it’s a bill that says “life begins at conception”. Ugh! Hopefully the ND Senate shoots it down…

  • weaves

    I’ve never heard of this Blue Law before and I find it hilarious that such a thing exists.

    Oh well, I intend to buy a St. Agnes brandy tonight and I work some Sundays. I love my heathen lifestyle.

  • Zack

    I live in a dry county too (a college town as it were) and I am supremely annoyed by these blue laws. I have an enormous class load as well as working, and the only time I can drink is on Sunday, when nobody sells any alcohol. Not to mention the futility of trying to eliminate liquor on a college campus. Also nobody sells alcohol after midnight. Assholes. Morons. Christians….

  • The entire concept of Sundays being a time when everything official shuts down is ridiculously antiquated. I should be able to go to a bank, do business, get my mail, etc., regardless of the day of the week.

  • Jed

    Bergen County New Jersey (just outside NYC) has a wholesale prohibition on all “wordly employment” on Sunday. Grocery stores can open, but one cannot purchase furniture, appliances, clothing, etc… and a grocery store that ordinarily sells certain electrical appliances (e.g. electric kettle, can opener etc..) must rope that portion of the store off and cannot sell those goods.

  • I grew up in CT and there’s one other thing at work here. Many of the people who want to keep the Blue Laws are the people who own liquor stores (called “package stores” or “packies” here). Unlike other states, where most alcohol is sold in grocery stores or in big warehouse-like stores, most of CT’s package stores are tiny, family-owned businesses. They want Sunday off so they don’t have to work 7 days a week.

  • polomint38

    In England and Wales before the Sunday Trading Act 1994, big business’ could not open on Sunday.

    One of the weird rules was you could buy Newspapers, Magazines and any book EXCEPT THE BIBLE.

    So basically Porn fine, God bad, these Xians are so f*cked up.

  • Stephen P

    @polomint38: actually I’m pretty sure that selling any book was prohibited. Newspapers were legal, books not.

  • Another Point of View on Blue Laws.

    I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist and lived in Georgia, so I was terrified of the Blue Laws. SDA Church always taught us that the Blue Laws would be used to persecute the people worshiping on Saturday (God’s chosen day per the 10 commandments), just before Armageddon was nigh. They also warned us of the evil of rock music and somewhere along the way my comic books became evil and had to be burned… but I digress into bitter.

    I’m thankfully past that viewpoint now.

  • Hound Doggy

    I lived in a small town in Kansas that was dry. Of course no bars…but private clubs could sell liquor. Membership to any “club” was $5.00. The membership overfloweth.
    I’m now in Missouri….no alchey sales on Sunday….you just have to plan ahead.

  • Marsha

    I grew up in a dry county in KY, went to college in a dry county in KY. Moved to CA where the bars and liquor stores close at 2am and reopen at 6am everyday. Stupid. Now I live in a county in TN where the liquor stores are closed on Sundays, but you can buy drinks in restaurants on Sundays, and you can buy beer in stores on Sundays. We were coming back from FL once on a Sunday and in GA couldn’t find anywhere to get a bottle of wine. We were pissed. So stupid. Sunday is just another day to me so why do I have to be punished for that?

  • I live in a county that is dry. In fact, to acquire alcohol would require a nearly 2 hour drive in any direction (one direction just so happens to take you across the state line after about an hour.)

  • Casey

    I live in Oklahoma where liquor stores are closed on Sundays. In my home county of Rogers County, restaurants cannot serve liquor on Sundays, or 6-point beer. In fact, only 3-point beer is sold in grocery and convenience stores. We go to Texas for 6-point beer, or buy the imports in our liquor stores. I live in Tulsa County now, where at least I can have a cosmo on Sunday if I want. These “Blue Laws” are so outdated. If private- or family-owned liquor stores want to close on Sundays, then they shouldn’t be required to be open. At least liquor or 6-point beer could be served in the grocery and convenient stores on Sundays. But this is the bible belt. Go figure. If my family wasn’t rooted here, I’d definitely be gone!

  • I know that you hope that blue laws wil go extinct, but I must warn you that they will not. Instead they will be reinforced in all states and will include criminal penalty. I am a Christian person but, don’t get me wrong such actions and laws I do not encourage or approve.

    This is how I see things: God doesn’t approve of one forcing ones beliefs on another person, for if he did he would simply force us all to obey him. Instead he allows us to choose what we wish to believe. If he doesn’t force us, How come we think we have the right to force anyone into believing what a certain group or person believes? It’s unjust and unfair to everyone’s conscience.

    America is founded on revolutionaries who came here to escape from tyranny, of a persecuting empire Rome (check history for Roman Inquisition). Yet now we wish to do the same as they did? Reinforce a law that will only inevitably change America from being persecuted to persecuting.

    I know that this might all come as a shock to you but, it’s true. A law will be set with restrictions for Sunday whether it’s called “blue laws” or hides under “family day” or whatever. This will happen no matter what, for it has been prophesized. Simply look around in the world, in the news, on how things are moving along for the world that seeks peace and standing “all” on common grounds. Sounds nice right! Watch out because through a mask of peace will come destruction.

    Word to the wise do not resist to believe what I am saying, investigate and see for yourself.

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