Two bills recently introduced to the Texas Legislature could expand the hours of liquor sales and potentially pour more revenue into the local economy.
State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, have filed companion bills that would abolish the state’s “blue” laws limiting alcohol sales on Sundays. The bills, Senate Bill 236 and House Bill 421, would stretch the hours of liquor store operation during the week.
Texans currently have 66 hours per week to legally buy alcohol. Package and liquor stores are allowed to operate Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bills would extend store hours Monday through Saturday, allowing them to stay open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The stores would be allowed to operate on Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. Stores would still remain closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Thompson stated in a press release Texas’ “blue laws” are antiquated rules that prohibit the sale of certain items on Sunday.
“In a modern economy, blue laws and hour restrictions on sales no longer make sense,” Thompson said. “Allowing spirits retailers to keep additional hours is not only the fair thing to do but will also generate new revenue for Texas.”
Desiree Castro, policy analyst staff member for Hinojosa, said a report released by the Legislative Budget Board projects $7.8 million in tax revenue will be generated if the bills pass.
However, Castro said stores will not be required to change their hours of operation if the bills pass. It will be up to each store owner whether hours should be altered.
Hussain Mohammed, cashier at the Korner Stop Food Mart next to Sewell Park, said the store would stay open for more hours to sell alcohol if the bills pass. He said 40 percent of the store’s sales come from alcohol.
Mohammed said he has to stop two to three people at the door on Saturday nights when the store closes.
“Staying open later would be a benefit because most people leave the bar and rush here,” Mohammed said. “If they had more time (to buy alcohol), they wouldn’t have to rush.”
Autumn Downey, manager of Gabriel’s Wine and Spirits Outlet, said she would consider having the store open on Sundays if the bills pass.
The Gabriel’s in San Marcos is one of about 62 chain stores, so some of them could start opening on Sundays. Downey said the San Marcos store gets more business than many others in the chain, so it would probably be one that would consider staying open on Sundays.
“I don’t think it is a bad bill being pushed, but I will say I do enjoy my Sundays off. So, personally I wouldn’t enjoy it,” Downey said.
Downey said Saturdays would not be as busy for Gabriel’s if the bills were passed. She said people wouldn’t feel the need to rush out on Saturdays to buy alcohol.