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Arkansas Eliminates Sunday Blue Law Banning Alcohol Sales

March 3, 2009 07:00 PM

Joins Supermajority of States Modernizing Alcohol Laws to Increase Revenue, Consumer Convenience

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Arkansas became the 36th state to repeal its Blue Law banning Sunday liquor sales at package stores, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, which called the state’s decision a sign of things to come across the South as legislators continue looking for ways to raise revenue without raising taxes in this sour economy.  The Council called Arkansas’s repeal further evidence of a national trend of states modernizing alcohol laws, noting that Arkansas is the 14th state since 2002 to erase its Sunday sales ban. 

Senate Bill 121, sponsored by Senator Robert Thompson and signed yesterday by Governor Mike Beebe, gives communities the option to vote on allowing package stores to open on Sundays.  The new law also allows restaurants and other on premise establishments to serve alcohol on Sundays between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight – an extension of up to four more hours.  The bill took effect upon signage.

“The ban on Sunday alcohol sales outlived its relevance long ago,” said Distilled Spirits Council Vice President Dale Szyndrowski, whose organization has aggressively supported modernizing Blue Laws in states across the country.  “Everything we know about modern consumer demand tells us that Blue Laws no longer make sense in today’s economy.  This law will give consumers added convenience, store owners more choices and the State Treasury extra revenue during a time when it’s all much-needed.” 

Szyndrowski noted that Arkansas becomes the 36th state to allow Sunday liquor sales at package stores.  Only 14 states continue to cling to Prohibition-era Sunday sales bans, he said.  They are: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.  For more on current Blue Law states, visit prohibitionrepeal.com.

Sunday Sales Will Support Tourism and Hospitality Industry
Many out of state tourists are shocked to learn alcohol is unavailable on Sundays in Arkansas.  Szyndrowski pointed out that Arkansas’s repeal is significant because it sits on the border of several states that continue to ban Sunday sales, namely Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.  He noted that Texas legislators, pressured by consumers and package store owners, have already filed three bills to repeal the state’s Sunday sales restriction in 2009. 

“Arkansas will now see more revenue from Sunday sales among Arkansas residents, but also from Sunday shoppers and tourists in border states who might want a cocktail or bottle of wine with supper,” Szyndrowski added.

Other states with pending legislation to repeal Sunday Blue Laws include Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and Texas.

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