Houston lawmaker champions Sunday hard liquor sales in Texas

liquor bottles

Credit: WFAA

Houston lawmaker champions Sunday hard liquor sales in Texas

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by GABE GUTIERREZ

KHOU

Posted on February 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 13 at 10:59 PM

Poll:
Should Texas permit the sale of hard liquor on Sundays?

HOUSTON — As Texas lawmakers try to balance a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall, a Houston legislator has filed a bill that would allow hard liquor sales on Sundays.

The Legislative Budget Board says extra booze sales would rake in $7 million in new sales tax over the next two years.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, filed the bill last week. He admits that it wouldn’t make much of a dent in the state’s financial problems, but he says every little bit helps.

"We ought to make it as convenient for people to buy legal substances as possible," Ellis said. "So that we don’t have these bootleg operators that end up selling it and not paying taxes on it."

Ellis argues that Texas is one of just 14 states that still prohibit hard liquor sales on Sundays.

But many liquor store owners are strongly against the bill because they say it would basically force them to open an extra day – a move they argue would cost them more overhead for little or no profits.

"I think it’s a bad idea," said Charlie Skeens, the manager of Richard’s Liquors & Fine Wines in Upper Kirby. "You know, the law’s been in effect forever here. And it’s Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. If you can’t make it in and make that purchase, well, then you drink beer on Sunday!"

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has no official position on the bill, but the group isn’t against it, said John McNamee, the executive director for MADD Southeast Texas. He said MADD is more focused on other bills in the legislature specifically aimed at preventing drunk driving.

Not surprisingly, the liquor makers support the Sunday sales bill. They’d eventually like to see hard liquor sold in Texas grocery chains, too.

Ellis said he’d consider such a bill in the future, but he would have to research it further.

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