Liquor Store (copy)

Owner Ian Sproul stands among Biergarten’s shelves. Tulsa County voters will consider Sunday liquor store sales in the March 3 election.

Tulsa County voters will decide Tuesday whether to authorize liquor stores to open on Sunday.

It’s a small but important step in the state’s continued evolution on issues involving alcohol.

In 2017, legislation authorized counties to consider ending the state’s Prohibition-era blue law. Problems with the way the law was written prevented local voters from considering the issues until now.

Tulsa County is the first county in line to consider Sunday liquor sales, and we urge voters to approve it.

If approved, the measure could go into effect by spring, county officials have said. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. has found that Sunday sales in other states increased liquor store business 4% to 7% — a modest increase that could make a difference in the bottom line of locally owned small businesses.

Aside from convenience issues, Sunday liquor store sales are a matter of commercial fairness and religious liberty.

After the passage of State Question 792 in 2016, convenience and grocery stores — which are open seven days a week — got to compete with the state’s package stores in strong beer and wine sales.

It’s fundamentally unfair that liquor stores lost their monopolies on those items but still aren’t even allowed to sell them one-seventh of the time. Liquor stores deserve the right to compete on a level playing field, seven days a week.

Blue laws are a relic of the 19th century. They use state law to enforce the religious sentiments of some people on all the people. People who don’t want liquor sold on Sunday shouldn’t buy any, but they also should leave their neighbors alone to make their own decisions.

We support Sunday liquor store sales as a matter of convenience, commercial fairness and civil equity and urge Tulsa voters to approve the county-option issue on Tuesday’s ballot.

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Editorial Pages Editor

Wayne is the editorial pages editor of the Tulsa World and a political columnist. A fourth-generation Oklahoman, he previously served as the World’s city editor for 13 years and as a reporter at the state Capitol of four years. Phone: 918-581-8308