House panel approves measures on blue laws - - Columbia, South Carolina

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House panel approves measures on blue laws

(Columbia) April 5, 2005 - The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Tuesday that could end South Carolina's blue laws.

The panel has passed a measure that would allow the sale of any retail item at any time on Sunday. It would not change state or local laws regulating alcohol sales.

Lawmakers noted that businesses can be at a disadvantage depending on their location. For example, most of the Columbiana Centre is inside Lexington County and opens later on Sunday than the mall's one store that sits in Richland County.

The neighboring counties have different Sunday sales restrictions. The bill also attempts to improve protections for people who have a "conscientious objection to Sunday work."

Right now, nearly 40 South Carolina counties have blue laws, restricting what you can buy in a store before a certain time on Sunday.

For Doug Bradford, Sunday mornings are easy. The Pet Smart he manages on Harbison Boulevard doesn't open until 1:30pm because of blue laws. But he'd be dog-gone happy to see that change, "We'd like to see the blue laws go, because I think it would be a great benefit to the customers to be able to shop here at 8:00 in the morning."

Shoppers like Daniel McGowan along Harbison's busy stretch say it would make things more convenient than now, "It's a little hassle because you might have something you have to do earlier and you have to wait around until 1:30 and that kind of messes your plans up sometimes."

The bill has to pass the full House and Senate, though, before anyone's buying before 1:30pm on a Sunday.

Some, like Lexington County Council Chairman Bill Rucker, hope that doesn't happen, "I think people should have a choice on whether or not they want to work on Sunday mornings, or be with their families in churches, and employees won't have that choice any longer if they're forced to work on Sunday mornings."

Individual counties can repeal blue laws by referendum, and some, like Richland, have. But Lexington County voted nine years ago to keep theirs.

As for Doug Bradford, he sees an economic boost by getting rid of the laws, "The customers who go shop in Richland county would be able to stay here in Lexington county and shop."

Making Bradford's Sunday mornings busier.

Reported by Jennifer Miskewicz

Updated 9:30pm by Chantelle Janelle 

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