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Research & Commentary: Arbitrary Alcohol Sales Laws Could be Coming to an End in Texas

May 7, 2021

Texas could be the next state in line to roll back prohibition-era alcohol sales laws, making purchasing for customers more convenient, and the market more competitive.

Legislation has been introduced in the state of Texas that would allow sales of alcohol on Sunday for all retailers. The Texas legislature has bipartisan support to roll back outdated laws that limit packaged retailers from selling on Sundays. With the introduction of SB 1013 and companion legislation HB 2232 Texas is moving toward a more free and competitive market for alcohol sales. An additional bill HB 937 was introduced and similarly would roll back the prohibition era policies that are still enforced.

Currently, Texas alcohol sales laws are to the detriment of the consumer. But Texas isn’t alone,  Since 2002, 21 states have passed laws permitting Sunday sales and it looks like Texas could be next.

One argument made in support of limiting alcohol sales on Sundays is that it will increase public safety. Not only does this argument not hold up, but there is little to no evidence that suggests banning sales on Sunday of certain alcohol would limit drunk driving, or increase public safety.

On the other hand, these arbitrary laws do in fact breed cronyism by keeping packaged retailers out of the market, this includes distilleries which have been growing more popular over the years. Sundays are one of the busiest shopping days and yet, Texas have limited sales for distilleries. More than 30,000 Texas businesses sell alcohol seven days a week including: bars, restaurants, and grocery stores, yet package stores including distilleries are banned from doing so. It is time to offer equal opportunity to all retailers.

If passed any and all of these laws would be a huge step forward for the great state of Texas. There would be substantial economic benefits, and by opening up the marketplace new businesses would have an opportunity to provide for the citizens of the Lone Star State. Not only would this move offer more jobs for Texans, but also boost tax revenues for the state.

Not only are these arbitrary laws holding back the state of Texas, but the legislature already rolled back all other “blue laws” on the books in 1983. There is no question that these laws are anti-consumer, anti-free enterprise, and cater to special interest. Reform of Texas alcohol sales laws are long overdue, these laws if passed would allow for a local option election to open up the marketplace, and that is a win for everyone. Hopefully, Texas will be able to cheers 7 days of a week to a freer society.

 

The following documents offer additional information on Sunday liquor sale bans.

Blue Laws: Easing Up on Sunday Liquor Sales
Throwing out Prohibition-era laws means more revenue for states
http://politics.usnews.com/news/national/articles/2008/07/08/easing-up-on-sunday-liquor-sales.html
This article from U.S. News & News Reports looks at the trend of states repealing blue laws and bringing in more tax revenue as a result. It notes, “A recent study found that the dozen states that have recently allowed liquor to be sold on Sundays generate more than $200 million in new state revenue every year.”

The Effect of Sunday Sales of Alcohol on Highway Crash Fatalities
http://www.budgetandtax-news.org/article/29457
This study by economics professor Mark Stehr finds there is no correlation between repealing Sunday sales of alcohol laws and highway crash fatalities. The study notes that after “drawing upon data from the lower 48 states from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), this paper finds that only the repeal in New Mexico led to an increase in fatalities.”

States OK Sunday Spirits Sales to Increase Tax Revenue, Consumer Convenience
http://www.budgetandtax-news.org/article/15980
This article from Budget & Tax News examines the positive economic impacts that repealing blue laws has had on states. It notes, “With Sunday now the second-busiest shopping day of the week, states and localities are realizing these outdated Blue Laws no longer have a place in our modern society.”

Will the Recession Doom the Last Sunday Blue Laws?
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1880340,00.html
Time magazine takes a look at the growing trend of states repealing blue laws that date back to colonial times. Auburn University economics professor David Laband says, “States realize that consumers will migrate to a place where they can buy what they want. And whatever their reasons are for not wanting to sell on Sunday, these states realize they’re paying a price for it in foregone tax revenues. So once the economy goes bad, then the cost of their policies [is] apparent to them.”

Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this subject, visit Health Care News, The Heartland Institute’s website, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.

The Heartland Institute can send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus, host an event in your state, or send you further information on a topic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance. If you have any questions or comments, contact the government relations team at governmentrelations@heartland.org or 312/377-4000.

Article Tags
Alcohol & Tobacco
Author
Christina Herrin is a former state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.
cherrin@heartland.org @_Free2Choose