Lexington Co. moves to suspend blue laws

Lexington County Council
Lexington County Council

By Logan Smith - bio | email and Tim Pulliam - email

LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Blue laws may become a thing of the past in Lexington County.

Council took first reading on a measure to suspend them Tuesday evening. It's a surprise move that came after county officials announced online retailer Amazon is opening a new distribution center in Cayce, which is expected to bring in more than 1,200 full time jobs.

It's been a controversial issue for years. County leaders say it's an outdated law, and it's time for the county to get rid of it and move forward.

However, there's differing opinions on the issue. Donna Dumont believes Sunday is a special day for church folks. "There's no reason you can't wait until a little bit later in the afternoon, and it really does interfere with your ability to worship if that's what you choose to do," says Dumont.

Others say they shouldn't have to wait until 1:30pm to shop for items that aren't considered a "necessity." "Sometimes when I'm in Walmart with my mom. I like to look in the other sections, but they always have it roped off," says Kimberly Green.

"I don't see the usefulness any longer, and I think we need to move on," says Gigi Godley.

County leaders are considering putting the old law to rest in an attempt to attract more businesses who may want to be open earlier. "We live in a different society today, and to be business friendly, we have to do things differently than we've ever done before," says Johnny Jeffcoat of the Lexington County Council.

Yet, economists are skeptical stores will benefit more without blue laws. "My gut opinion is that it's probably not going to be a very big impact," says USC Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. William Hauk.

The measure to suspend blue laws in Lexington County has to go through two more readings before a final vote.

Lexington County is the latest in a series of Midlands counties to get rid of their blue laws. Richland County began selling beer and wine on Sundays in April 2008. Camden suspended their blue laws in March 2010, and Sumter County followed suit a month later.

In Sumter County, employees who wish to attend church services and not work are protected under the plan. So far there's no word whether a similar measure will be included in the Lexington County plan.

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