North Carolina legislators are considering allowing ABC stores to sell alcohol on Sunday. If it passes, Senate Bill 277 would repeal a blue law that has been on the books for more than seven decades.
Such laws typically serve two often competing goals: discouraging certain purchases and raising tax revenues.
Loosening restrictions on when liquor can be purchased makes sense. The current law that prohibits ABC stores from opening on Sunday seems to exist for no other reason than tradition.
Some Christian groups are opposing the law because they say it will lead to an increase in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, but it is unlikely that changing the law will have a dramatic impact.
Loosening restrictions is a good step, but the fact that the General Assembly is able to make decisions like this one is a sign of larger problems with North Carolina’s ABC system.
North Carolina is one of only a few states that still maintain a monopoly on liquor sales. The system is a bureaucratic mess of 168 local ABC boards and has seen its fair share of scandal over the past few years.
A better step would be to consider privatizing the system as whole. Gov. Perdue has already made her opposition to ABC privatization known, but will not comment on SB 277 unless it reaches her desk.
The possible change to allow liquor sales on Sunday would make life slightly more convenient by getting rid of a tradition that only serves to limit the freedom of adults. Rolling back certain restrictions on holiday purchases, especially Labor Day and the Fourth of July, would be even more rational.
But it does not address the significant problems still present with state controlled liquor sales.
The North Carolina General Assembly should allow liquor sales on Sundays, but they should also consider getting out of the alcohol business entirely.
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