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Editorial: Conn. blue laws way past due

People rally outside the Capitol in support of

People rally outside the Capitol in support of retail alcohol sales on Sundays in Hartford, Conn., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. Supporters and opponents to retail alcohol sales on Sundays wait outside a hearing room filled to capacity at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. Credit: AP

The repeal of Connecticut's blue laws may cost liquor stores along New York's border a little green, but overturning that archaic ban on Sunday sales was overdue.

By allowing grocery and package stores to sell beer, wine and spirits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and holidays -- just in time for Memorial Day next week -- Connecticut joins the modern era and most of the rest of the country. New York overturned its blue laws in 2003.

The bans, which date back to the Puritans, used to be widespread. But Connecticut's move leaves Indiana as the only state with a complete ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

The new law, signed by Gov. Dannel P. Molloy last week, went into effect this past weekend and is expected to generate $5 million to $11 million for his state. It's fair to say that some of that money would have been spent in New York. Before the repeal, many last-minute partygoers crossed the state border to shop in communities like Port Chester, Southeast or South Salem.

So some store owners near the state line in Westchester and Putnam counties may see their sales dip. But it probably won't crimp most businesses too much. It should certainly help convenience-conscious consumers in both states and may even drive prices down a bit because of increased competition.

The blue laws were designed in the mid-1700s to regulate morals and behavior in colonial New England. In some of their earliest forms, blue laws forbade exercising, walking and even working. In New York, there was once a Sunday ban on baseball.

Times change, and so should these types of restrictions. Connecticut's ban was as outdated as the horse-drawn wagon.

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