Sunday Sales

A few weeks ago, I was pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator to make a recipe when I stopped. Wine, two cups of dry red wine. The problem? It was Sunday and there was no wine in the house. Poor planning? Yes. Inconvenient? Absolutely.
Under current Colorado law, the state’s 1,600 independent liquor stores (including the five stores in the Crested Butte area) are required to be closed on Sundays—a throwback to the state’s blue laws. A blue law is designed to enforce society’s moral codes, particularly the observance of Sunday as a day of rest.
However, the code may be about to change if Senate Bill 82 is passed. The bill was approved by the Senate on Monday, February 25 and is now being considered by the House’s Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
Proponents say the current law has outlived its usefulness and a change will allow stores to serve consumers who expect to be able to buy alcohol on Sunday. Thirty-four states now allow liquor sales on Sundays.
Critics of the bill have said the change is an attempt to increase sales tax revenue at the expense of independent liquor store owners, who may feel forced to stay open on Sundays in order to compete. Analysts estimate that Sunday sales could fetch the state an extra $4 million in taxes annually, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
This isn’t the first time legislators have attempted to strike down the blue law. A similar bill was defeated in 2005, when liquor store owners vehemently protested Sunday sales, stating that they preferred to have the day off to spend with their families. In addition, they were concerned about staffing the extra day without a guarantee of more revenue.
The concerns are still there, according to local liquor store owners, but they’re willing to accept Sunday sales in order to head off another piece of legislation that would have allowed grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine, but not liquor. That bill was killed in a Senate committee earlier this month.
When it comes down to it, allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Colorado just makes sense—particularly in a resort town like Crested Butte where out-of-state visitors expect to be able to buy a bottle seven days a week. Consumers are demanding the ability to purchase liquor when it’s convenient to them and state government can no longer stand in the way.
Following the lead set by the state Senate, I urge the Colorado House to pass this bill and Governor Ritter to sign off.

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