A ‘blue law’ is defined as “a law prohibiting certain activities, such as shopping, on a Sunday,” or (in colonial New England), “a strict religious law, particularly one preventing entertainment or leisure activities on a Sunday.”
In the United States of America, twelve states continue Prohibition-era blue laws that ban the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Those states include: Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Since 2002, 16 states have authorized Sunday spirits sales, bringing the total to 38.
In today’s modern economy, with dual-income households becoming the norm, Sunday has now become the second busiest shopping day of the week. Some say because of this, blue laws hinder consumer convenience and deprive states of additional sales tax revenue.
Last year, the cities of Anniston and Weaver in Calhoun County were given the authority to allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Since then, the debate over whether or not other municipalities and localities throughout the state should be allowed to join the 21st century on Sundays or rest back in the 1920s has begun.
In nearby Gadsden, three of four members of the Etowah County legislative delegation have said they will not support allowing a referendum vote on Sunday alcohol sales in their county. Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City), Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City), and
Representative Becky Nordgren (R-Gadsden) all said that they would not support a vote on such a measure.
The only member of the legislative delegation to say he would support allowing his constituents a right to vote was State Representative Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) who is the current Minority Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives. Ford says that the debate is not over whether alcohol should be sold on Sundays, but over whether or not the people should be allowed the right to vote on public issues that affect them. I agree.
Sen. Williams and Rep. Butler say that they oppose such a referendum on religious grounds. They say that they wish to “uphold the Sabbath” by not allowing citizens the right to vote.
According to the Gadsden Commercial Development Authority, not having Sunday alcohol sales resulted in four national dine-in chain restaurants dropping their interest in locating in Gadsden. One of those restaurants was Buffalo Wild Wings whose representative explicitly told the GCDA: “Call me back when you have seven day sales.” The estimated annual sales from those restaurants would have been $10 million.
A survey of the Gadsden-Etowah Chamber of Commerce members earlier this year showed that 62.7 percent supported allowing Sunday sales. These are the leading business/industry officials in the community.
As the president of the Gadsden-Etowah Chamber put it: “In my mind as a Christian, my relationship with God is a personal one and one that isn’t legislated.”
In my humble opinion, whether one wishes to impose his or her religious principles or not; at the very least, let the people vote!