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Alcoholism & Addiction

States Consider Abolishing Alcohol ‘Blue Laws’ to Boost Coffers

So-called “blue laws” may soon be abolished in several states across the country. The laws, which limit the sale of liquor on Sundays, were originally part of a religious ordinance to reserve Sunday as a day of rest. But critics say removal of weekend restrictions will create a significant boost in revenue and taxes and will keep customers from having to cross states lines to buy alcohol.

Opening the limits for weekend alcohol sales is part of a plan to increase states’ revenue without having to raise taxes. According to an article featured in the Wall Street Journal, some business owners in New Hampshire feel that relaxing the laws could boost weekend business by as much as 8 percent. In fact, state Rep. Keith Murphy, who co-owns Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester, estimates that such a change could bring in as much as $6 million in extra revenue for the state in the form of taxes.

Laws regulating the sale of alcohol differ from state to state, and New Hampshire and Texas are among those hoping to ease the limits. Whether such legislation will pass, however, is yet to be determined. Similar proposals were shot down earlier this year in Minnesota, Indiana and Tennessee.

Those against relaxing the current laws say that nothing good can come from allowing residents to purchase alcohol in the wee morning hours or on Sunday. In Hanover, New Hampshire, police chief Nicholas Giaccone Jr. says that the college town, which is home to Dartmouth College, would suffer from such a proposal. Opponents argue that these measures will lead to more drunk-driving and alcohol-related problems.

Professor Mark Stehr of Drexel University has conducted research regarding the impact that alcohol sales have on drunk-driving deaths and tax revenues. According to Stehr, states shouldn’t expect a big return from easing alcohol restrictions. He says sales will simply be stolen from other days of the week.

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