Blue laws are pretty common in the United States, and the term refers to restrictions of sale. In areas where blue laws are in effect, Sundays are traditionally off limits for most retail establishments and liquor is completely off limits.
Today, blue laws in Texas restrict only two types of purchases: automobiles and alcohol. Car dealerships must be closed either Saturday or Sunday (which day is up to their discretion) and alcohol is only allowed to be sold during certain times of the day. Beer and wine can be sold between 7 a.m. and midnight Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday it can be sold between midnight and 1 a.m. and again between noon and midnight. State law allows certain large cities to extend sales to 2 a.m. on any day of the week. Liquor can only be sold at specialized stores, and sale is restricted to 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no sales permitted on Sunday, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.
Before 1985, however, there were a lot of things you couldn’t buy on Sundays. You could buy screwdrivers but not screws, for example. Cloth diapers could not be sold, but disposable diapers were okay. The restrictions had no rhyme or reason to them, but proponents of state blue laws made sure they were heard in the early 1980’s. Getting rid of blue laws would force retailers to be open for 7 days a week rather than 6, resulting in higher utility overhead and a raise in the amount of wages paid out to employees. It was unclear for many stores whether being open on Sunday would result in enough revenue to cover these new expenses.
In Tarrant County, Lanny Hall was openly torn about whether or not to uphold the Texas Blue Laws. In a letter to a constituent, he admits that he believes Sunday should be reserved for a day of rest and for families to be together. He states that he has received overwhelming support from Tarrant County voters for repealing the blue laws. Much more information about the Texas Blue Laws and their role in the 66th, 67th, and 68th legislative sessions can be found in the Lanny Hall collection, which contains records pertaining to subjects such as public education, tuition rates and funding for colleges and universities, equal rights and LGBT issues, transportation, and health topics.