Panicked Saturday night ABC store runs in preparation for Sunday game days might be a thing of the past.
Senate Bill 277, proposed earlier this month, would allow N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commissions to have the option to remain open on Sundays, revoking a blue law that has been in place for more than 70 years.
N.C. Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, who is sponsoring the bill, cited accessibility as motivation behind the legislation.
“The addition of Sunday has been requested by different municipalities, groups, and we want to provide convenience to the consumer,” Jenkins said.
The bill would allow each ABC board — run by the individual counties in the state — to make the decision to remain open on Sunday and to decide their hours of operation.
It makes no difference whether the store is open Sunday as opposed to any other day of the week, and the change would not have a significant impact on college campuses, Jenkins said.
“Students who are 21 can buy liquor already in a bar. What’s the difference between buying it in a glass or buying it in a bottle?” he said.
But groups such as the Christian Action League of North Carolina are lobbying against the bill and believe the benefits of convenience or the possibility for state revenue are outweighed by the risk to public health.
Rev. Mark Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League, cited several studies that showed increases in alcohol-related accidents and fatalities after the repeal of Sunday liquor bans.
“The repeal on the sale of Sunday sales in places like New Mexico was followed with 29 percent increase in alcohol-related crashes and 42 percent in alcohol-related traffic deaths on Sundays,” Creech said. “Binge drinking and excessive drinking is typically something that occurs during the weekends.
“This 24-hour break has been known to disrupt the cycle of binge drinking.”
North Carolina ranked 6th in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2009, according to a report by the Century Council, a nonprofit organization created to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking.
Creech said studies have also shown states with a repeal have encountered a decline in church attendance.
“The juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” he said. “Churches provide unprecedented aid with the poor, with those with drug problems.
“Legislators — like they draft bills to help businesses thrive — should take churches into account as well,” Creech said.
But some students say if the bill passes it will eliminate prior inconveniences.
Ariana Rowberry, a sophomore political science and peace, war and defense double major, said she thought a repeal of the blue law would increase accessibility to students at UNC.
“I think students would really enjoy and take advantage of this,” she said. “Also, it could increase revenue for the state.”
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