Cumberland Times-News

January 16, 2014

Open it up

Expand Sunday sales to all districts in Garrett

Cumberland Times-News

— Garrett County’s commission and liquor board are seeking the General Assembly’s approval of a referendum they hope will allow more Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages.

Establishments in some county districts are currently allowed to have on- and off-premises sales and sell alcoholic beverages with meals between the hours of 1 and 10 p.m., and the officials want this privilege extended throughout the county,

Allegany County has allowed similar practices for many years, and there have been no problems.

Garrett liquor board Administrator Debbie Owston said there have been no complaints about Sunday sales with restaurant meals. She also said businesses that don’t have Sunday sales are at a disadvantage when competing with businesses in other districts where Sunday sales are legal.

This alone should be reason to allow county-wide Sunday sales, considering what we call “equal protection of the law.”One business in a county should not legally be given a competitive advantage over another business that otherwise is legally considered the same type of business.

Garrett County’s current district-by-district Sunday sales provisions are a remnant of the “Blue Laws” that once were common in America. They restricted certain activities — particularly sales of liquor, automobiles or anything else that wasn’t a necessity item — on Sundays, which were considered a day for rest or worship.

Blue laws still are enforced in some places and, of course, there are “dry” towns and counties where no alcohol can be sold on any day of the week. Kentucky is famous for its bourbon whiskey industry, but 55 of its 120 counties are dry. Next door in Tennessee, Jack Daniel can make its whiskey in Lynchburg, but people have to go somewhere else to buy it because Lynchburg is in Moore County — which is dry.

Maryland’s legislature should grant Garrett County a referndum to allow Sunday sales.