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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Short of Funds, U.S. States Allow Sunday Liquor Sales

REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware -- In the United States, with barely a whimper from temperance interests, bans on Sunday liquor sales, the most durable of the nation's old blue laws, are tumbling. Pressed to trim their worst budget deficits in 50 years, state legislatures find that by letting liquor stores open on Sundays, the stores will sell more liquor. The states can then collect more revenues from excise taxes on liquor, on sales taxes and on liquor store profits.

So on Thursday, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, signed a law allowing Sunday liquor store sales from noon to 8 p.m. With little public notice last week, the New York State Legislature allowed Sunday sales, provided the stores close another day of the week.

Oregon, with one of the nation's deepest deficits, allowed Sunday liquor sales last year. Early this year, Pennsylvania began allowing Sunday sales by 61 of its 600-some state-owned stores and might let them all open on Sundays in two years. The laws could be dropped or relaxed soon in Kansas, Rhode Island and Washington State. Except for Texas, four of the five most populous states now allow liquor stores to open on Sundays.

For Delaware, Sunday sales would raise the state's annual alcoholic beverage tax revenues by $960,000 to $1.2 million, William Latham, an economist at the University of Delaware, reported in a study commissioned by the big stores. Latham also concluded that the sales would raise all state and local tax revenues by $1.7 million to $2.1 million.