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Bill that would repeal the West Virginia’s longstanding prohibition on Sunday retail liquor sales advances

One of West Virginia’s so-called “blue laws” would come off the books under a bill advancing in the House of Delegates.

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced a bill that would repeal the state’s longstanding prohibition on Sunday retail liquor sales. The measure also would roll back the time retailers can begin selling alcohol on Sunday from the current 1 p.m. to 10 a.m.

That start time would apply to retailers, restaurants, bars and private clubs.

Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association, said several business groups in the state were pushing for the change.

“It was actually a bill that we worked with several different groups to pursue,” Lambert said.

She said her group has been working with the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association — which represents food service, lodging and convention and visitors bureaus — as well as several small, in-state wineries and distilleries to lobby for the change.

The bill was originally intended to simply roll back the Sunday sales start time.

Lambert said the local groups in particular were interested in moving back the 1 p.m. Sunday sales limit to accommodate golf course and brunch events whose organizers wished to offer alcohol.

But when the bill came before the House Judiciary Committee Monday, lawmakers decided to expand it to allow for Sunday liquor sales.

While lawmakers preserved the state’s ban on liquor sales on Christmas, the change repeals a Sunday sales ban that has been on the books since the state’s founding.

Lawmakers have discussed allowing Sunday liquor sales for many years, but it never has received serious attention.

While the bill still has a long way to go before passage, Lambert hopes lawmakers will continue to push for the change.

“We just view it as an antiquated law,” she said.

West Virginia is one of just 12 states to ban Sunday retail liquor sales.

It’s a part of the state’s so-called “blue laws,” which limit alcohol purchases. Until 2011, the state was one of a handful that still barred retail liquor sales on election days.

Most of these laws are relics of a bygone era.

Source:  Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.com/News/statehouse/201303260258