Sunday Liquor Sales in Arkansas
Arkansas is one of those states still holding onto some of the old “Blue Laws” banning certain things on Sundays. The state started allowing retail stores to open on Sunday years ago, but as recently as the 1990’s, many remained closed. Sunday liquor sales were also banned under the “Blue Laws”, although a trend toward loosening the rules began several years ago when certain restaurants were allowed to serve alcohol for consumption on-site. Still, off-premises liquor sales remained banned.
Technically, it was possible for a county’s quorum court or a city council to okay Sunday sales. Only a small handful of localities did it. Governor Mike Beebe signed Act 294 into law this week, expanding the hours of Sunday operation for clubs and restaurants that have Sunday liquor licenses. It also does something else, cracking the door for off-premises sales a bit wider.
Now, residents of a city or county can take matters into their own hands, gathering petitions to put the question of Sunday package sales on the ballot, giving residents a right to make the decision, not leaving it up to the local governing body.
While the reasoning for the banned Sunday sales does have its roots in religion, you only have to drive by one of the liquor stores operating just feet north of the Arkansas border in Missouri to realize that there are a lot of Arkansas license plates in the parking lots and a lot of Arkansas money being left in the cash registers. Opponents of the Blue Laws say that’s money (and taxes) that could be staying at home. I’m expecting to see the first petition any day, now.