Super Bowl

Sobriety Test

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Speaking of the new prohibitionism, here's a quiz for you:

Some lawmakers in Connecticut want to repeal the state's ban on Sunday sales of liquor at retail stores. The Hartford Courant quotes a guy named Carroll J. Hughes:

"This is a frivolous attempt and a devious conspiracy." … [Hughes] said lifting the 70-year-old restriction on Sunday sales could lead to abuse, excess drinking, and more underage drinking. "Liquor is not a normal retail commodity and should not be treated as one."

Who does Carroll J. Hughes represent? MADD? Nope. The Connecticut Police Chief's Association? Wrong again.

While both of those groups oppose allowing Sunday sales, the stiffest opposition to lifting the ban comes from… of course… liquor retailers. Hughes runs the Connecticut Package Store Association, whose members apparently don't want to face the option of competing for each others' business during NASCAR races and NFL games.

Article here.

This story was also covered by Gary Santaniello in the Connecticut section of last Sunday's New York Times (That section isn't online.) An excerpt from the article:

"The reality is, in the 21st century, it's an antiquated law," said David Wojnar, the eastern region vice president for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group. "The shopping patterns of consumers have changed dramatically. If I'm having a cookout on a Sunday and people come over and I run out of beer, alcohol is not available. The same with holidays, and Super Bowl Sunday."

But while Mr. Wojnar talks about customer convenience, package-store owners and their supporters complain about the government's intrusion on free enterprise.

"These guys have the right to run their business the way they want without the government sticking their nose into it and telling them how late they have to stay open," said State Senator Thomas Colapietro, a Democrat from Bristol who is co-chairman of the General Law Committee, through which all legislation concerning alcohol sales must pass… Senator Colapietro and his co-chairman, Representative John Wayne Fox , a Democrat of Stamford, opposes Sunday liquor sales and leave no doubt that any bill liberalizing sales hours will have a tough time in their committee.

Bottoms up to the bizarro world of booze politics where liquor store owners team up with MADD to keep Sundays dry, and proponents of allowing retailers to serve customers whenever they want are considered enemies of free enterprise.

NEXT: A Vast Ba'athist Conspiracy

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  1. “These guys have the right to run their business the way they want without the government sticking their nose into it and telling them how late they have to stay open, …”

    Eh? Are you sure that isn’t a hoax? Noboby actually said that, did they?

  2. This is where gvt. restrictions never made much sense to me. What logic was used to figure out that
    closing liqours on sunday, or forcing hours on them would somehow curb drinking??

    Here in Colorado, liqour stores close at midnight, but bars dont have to shutdown till 2 am, liqour stores have to be closed on sunday, but bars dont.
    And that stops drunk driving how??

    Do law schools not teach logic??

  3. “These guys have the right to run their business the way they want without the government sticking their nose into it and telling them how late they have to stay open”

    Except when the government tells them they can’t sell on Sunday. But it gets stranger since I have never heard of government mandated store opening regulations just limits on how late alcohol can be sold. I can see the ABC guy now cruising by Benny’s liquors and issuing them a citation for closing 1/2 before the regulated time.

    Sometimes you just have to shake your head….

  4. I lived in CT for about a decade and the “package liquor” sales laws go way beyond no sunday sales. You can’t even buy a six pack to go after 8:00 PM! I initally thought this was some MADD puritanical edict. But no…
    As explained to me by a long time resident, back in the late 60’s the state was plagued by late night “package store” armed robberies. After a few murders the store owners decided that they didn’t want to stay open late, but were afraid to lose business to the few guys who would risk late hours. If one stayed open, they felt they also had to stay open to compete.

    Eventually a state liquor store owners association got the 8:00 close pushed through for safety’s sake.

    The effect was interesting. Since alcohol sales were legal but regulated you had to go to Rhode Island to buy a six pack. None could be had after about 7:45 as the law was enforced with an iron fist. You simply could not get take home booze after 8:00 PM….

    But you could buy crack any time you liked! It was openly sold on New London street corners. Draw your own conclusions about legaizing drugs.

  5. I’ve heard tell of a couple of states where you can’t buy anything but wine at the supermarket. Everything else is sold only at liquor/packaging stores.

    Again, the liquor store lobby is running things in those states.

    And geez, forcing businesses to close on Sunday’s ISN’T government intrusion into private enterprise??? What kind of powder have these guys been snorting?

  6. Garret J writes: “Hughes’ point seemed to be that the stores he represents would lose money if the days and hours alcohol can be sold in Connecticut were extended. But anyway you look at it, it’s just plain nutty. ”

    Not really nutty.

    The liquor store probably wouldn’t increase sales enough to make the extra day profitable. Sales that would have been made ahead of time will just move to Sunday. So they’d have about the same amount of weekly revenue, only now having to cover seven days’ wages.

  7. Here in Illinois, car dealerships are not allowed to sell cars on Sunday, with the same protecting-small-businesses rationale Gannett J recounts above.

    The math is simple: people buy new cars at about the same rate every year. Closing the dealerships on Sundays doesn?t change that. (Some people will postpone buying the new car for a week or two until they have the time, but spread out over the life of the car, this very small.) On the other hand, all dealerships cut their staffing costs by 1/7 (give or take). Pretty good deal for them.

  8. Just to clarify what I said before ……

    “Hughes’ point seemed to be that the stores he represents would lose money if the days and hours alcohol can be sold in Connecticut were extended. But anyway you look at it, it’s just plain nutty.”

    The smaller package stores most likely would lose money in such a scenario, and its a shrewd business move of them to keep the current laws from changing. What’s nutty is that Hughes and his group are so blatant about the favors they want from the state government, usually people are a little less up front than that. But then again maybe not, as I have not heard or read much in terms of support for changing these current laws.

  9. Some attorneys general were after car dealers to open Sundays, saying it was some kind of illegal collusion among the dealers, I think in Michigan for instance. I don’t think they’ve ever been successful. Car dealers are all closed Sundays in Ohio.

  10. I never heard about the car dealer thing. But hey, if they want to close on Sunday, even if they all get together and all close Sunday, that’s fine. But if a car dealer (or bar or liquor seller) wants to open then, and buck the trend, they should be allowed to.

    I’m curious. In fairly well poulated areas near the state border, do neighboring state’s car dealers flood the Sunday paper with inserts and “one day only” deals?

  11. chthus:

    The FTC has actually filed suit against car dealerships that got together and decided to close one day a week.

    The FTC claims that this is collusion because they are all deciding to stop a service they normally provide. OR something to that effect, it’s on the FTC’s site in the antitrust section.

  12. PA’s liquor laws are really, really bad, but now that some state liquor stores are open on Sunday, things are getting better.

    Now the only things you can’t do on Sunday in Pennsylvania are buy a car, buy a case of beer or shoot a woodchuck.

  13. Howard,

    You should go visit PA. Supermarkets and convenience stores sell NO alcohol – hard liquor, beer or wine. Liquor and wine are sold only at state run liquor stores. All of these close by 9 and until this year (pilot Sunday program at 10% of stores) you couldn’t even get a bottle of wine on Sunday. Beer is sold by the case or keg, no six packs, at beer distributers. These can’t be open on Sunday. I once was at a backyard political function with a bunch of local judges and pols in Pittsburgh. It was a Sunday and they had a broken tap for the keg. I got to watch these idiots call around to local frats trying to find a replacement, then have to drive about 30 miles to some one’s brother’s bar. Never once did it dawn on them that maybe the laws should be changed.

    As for six packs of beer, these can be purchased from any bar/restaurant, but with one limitation. No single person can leave with more than 192 oz. of beer (equivalent of two sixes of 16 oz. beers). Yes, you must walk in, purchase two, walk out, then walk back in if you want more.

    Another interesting note, the bars are not allowed to serve alcohol while the polls are open on election day.

    It sucks and I figured only Utah could be worse, until I discovered half-strength whiskey and vodka in Ohio.

  14. Here in Tennessee, none of the liquor stores are open on Sunday – but at least we can buy beer at the grocery. However, you can not buy corkscrews at the liquor store. WTF?!? When I got my own apartment I went to buy a bottle of wine, asked after a corkscrew, and was informed that I would have to go across the street to the grocery store to buy it. Of all the stupid laws . . .

  15. I just had to say a little something- I live in Connecticut, and I happened to hear this Carroll Hughes on the radio this afternoon. From what I gathered, the Connecticut Package Store Association that Hughes represents is an organization of smaller package stores. The smaller stores are afraid that if stores are allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays, they’ll be at a competitive disadvantedge in relation to the larger, Beverage Mart type stores, and more importantly the supermarkets (which can only sell beer). Hughes’ point seemed to be that the stores he represents would lose money if the days and hours alcohol can be sold in Connecticut were extended. But anyway you look at it, it’s just plain nutty. Or maybe not so nutty, maybe just politics as usual. Only in CT. The good news is, the bars are still open on Sunday.

  16. In California, I can’t smoke in a bar, but Jesus, at least I can buy as much booze as I can carry anywhere and anytime I want. Maybe this state isn’t so bad after all.

    Although it would be nice if Target and Wal-Mart sold booze. It’d probably be real cheap there. Costco is nice, but I don’t always need a case of beer or a 2L jug of rum. Most of the time, but not always.

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