Bye-Bye Blue Laws?

It seems likely that the Democrats will succeed at what Republicans never even attempted: repeal the Blue Law that prohibits Sunday liquor sales at stores. (I have heard of no attempt to remove the restrictions on Sunday auto sales.) While Democrats usually climb all over themselves to impose more economic controls, this time they seem ready to do the unthinkable: expand economic liberty.

Roger Fillion writes for the Rocky Mountain News:

SB-082, introduced by Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, would permit liquor stores to open Sundays. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., bar Sunday sales of distilled spirits. …

Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, is expected to offer a bill soon that would permit grocery stores such as Safeway and King Soopers to sell regular beer and wine six days a week, except Sundays. Stores that qualify must have a pharmacy and food sales that make up at least 51 percent of gross sales.

The reason that the bill is likely to pass this year, notes Fillion, is that “Colorado liquor store owners have reversed their long-standing opposition to Sunday liquor sales.” But of course liquor stores are opposed to allowing free-market competition at grocery stores; instead, liquor stores want to rely upon existing protectionist legislation to squash competition. So any grocery-store reform is unlikely. Still, I’ll take half a loaf this year, though I’ll continue to advocate economic liberty across the board.

According to the article, many liquor stores now want Sunday sales for two reasons. First, they think they can make money on Sunday. Second, they think that, by offering customers better service, they’ll reduce support for the grocery-store bill:

“If it’s what the consumer wants and it’s going there, there’s no use fighting it,” said Scott Robinson, co-owner of Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, summing up the general attitude. “We’ll make more money being open seven days a week.”

Robinson also conceded that support of the Sunday sales legislation could help liquor store owners head off the grocery store bill.

“We’d rather be meeting the needs of the consumer when that one shows up,” he said.

Yet, while the article talks about “convenience,” jobs, and revenues, not once does the article mention the central issue: individual rights. Stores and their customers have the right to do business on mutually agreeable terms, without political interference. Of course, Democrats are afraid to talk about individual rights in the economic sphere, because then they might actually have to take economic liberty seriously.