Lawmaker seeks to end Texas Sunday liquor sales ban

January 30, 2019 GMT

Rep. Richard Raymond is fighting for Texans’ right to party on Sundays.

Raymond, D-Laredo, has introduced legislation that would toss out one of Texas’ age-old “blue laws” and allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week. Beer, wine and booze still would not be available before noon on Sundays, but the bill would increase the legal hours of operation for liquor stores to 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“I think it’s just common sense,” Raymond said. “It’s one of those instances where I don’t government has any business telling a small business owner that they can’t open.”

For years, legislators have attempted to repeal the Sunday liquor ban, citing economic freedom for small businesses. Last session, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, introduced legislation that would allow Sunday sales, but the bill was never given a committee hearing.


This session could be different. Last year, the Sunset Advisory Commission declared that the laws governing alcohol sales, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that enforces them are in “serious need of modernization,” encouraging legislators to take a closer look at the matter. Also, the Texas Republican Party included repealing Texas’ blue laws in its party platform last year.

For subscribers: Lawmakers shame DPS leaders for driver license office wait times

The Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade association that represents liquor manufacturers, is also calling Texas’ laws outdated, including the ban on Sunday sales of liquor.

“The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is filled with outdated and often-contradictory provisions that serve no purpose than to restrict competition and protect entrenched special interests,” Dale Szyndrowski, vice president of the council, said in a press release. “From protectionist and unconstitutional ownership restrictions for package stores and murky trade regulations to antiquated ‘blue laws’ banning the retail sale of spirits on Sundays, Texas laws remain severely outdated and need reform.’’

A number of issues at TABC will be under the microscope this session, including licensing, regulation and overall transparency of the commission, something Raymond hopes will open a lane for his bill.

Texas Take: Get political headlines from across the state sent directly to your inbox

Raymond says his bill would erase unfair restrictions on businesses.

“The government is picking winners and losers and saying ’You can, but you can only go to these businesses and not those businesses,” Raymond said. “I’ve always thought the law was kind of dumb.”

The Texas blue law was passed in 1961, banning a number of Sunday sales that have almost all been rolled back in the years since. The only remnants are a mandate that car dealerships can only be open one day on weekends and the Sunday ban on liquor sales. Forty-two states allow the sale of liquor on Sundays, and alcohol can already be sold by many other business in Texas on Sundays, including bars and restaurants.