Capitol View – by Mark Hendrick

The South Carolina Baptist Convention Office of Public Policy commends the South Carolina House of Representatives for recently passing a bill that would make it illegal for retail liquor stores to be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Hendrick

Current law requires these stores to be closed on statewide election days and Sundays. The law in its current form further allows the governor to order closings on other days if he or she so chooses during periods proclaimed to be “in the interest of law and order or public morals and decorum.” A governor who wants to allow liquor stores to open on the holidays simply does not issue an order to close. Testimony on this matter indicated that governors in the past forgot or neglected to issue the order year after year, creating quite a bit of inconsistency. This bill, if approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, would mandate these stores to close their doors on these sacred holidays regardless of who the governor is.

The original bill, H.3385, introduced by Rep. Dennis Moss (Gaffney), creates misdemeanor offenses for retail liquor stores declining to close on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It also revokes an old provision outlawing liquor sales on statewide election days. Rep. David Weeks (Sumter) and Rep. Bakari Sellers (Denmark) led the effort to weaken the bill at the subcommittee and full Judiciary Committee levels.

Rep. Gary Smith (Simpsonville) took the lead on this bill when it reached the House floor. The office of public policy distributed a letter to every House member requesting that they support the bill with both holidays included. Rep. Smith introduced an amendment that addressed our concerns, and he and Rep. Moss were able to get the bill passed by a margin of 91-14. We commend those 91 representatives for their vote to protect the sanctity of these Christian and family-oriented holidays.

Continue to stay engaged with these men and woman as they work to combat the ever-increasing boundaries of alcohol sales in South Carolina while preserving our Christian beliefs and ideals. We must be on guard as dozens of bills are introduced each year, slowly loosening our state’s alcohol laws. We will continue to advocate the decrease of alcohol sales in South Carolina. Any time we can statutorily reduce the number of days alcohol can be sold, we consider that a victory.

For more information on the history, current status, or how House members voted on this bill, call the office of public policy at 1-800-723-7242.

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Article by: Mark Hendrick, Office of Public Policy Issues, SCBC