Provo to consider Sunday liquor sales

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A long-time ban on Sunday liquor sales in Provo may soon become a thing of the past.

“There was a time when there was no sale of beer or alcohol allowed in Provo,” said Helen Anderson, Provo City spokeswoman.

Over time, that law has been amended to allow liquor sales through state liquor stores, although Provo still bans the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

“We’re not sure when the Sunday liquor law was created, but it is obvious that the ordinance is antiquated,” Anderson said.

The pressure to overturn the ordinance increased when a local business owner approached Rick Healey, the Provo City councilman for District 2, about repealing it.

Proponents of a repeal said the ordinance doesn’t discourage drinking, but rather redirects buyers to other parts of Utah County. Local businesses lose  on the profits and citizens lose out on the tax dollars.

Hal Miller, candidate for city council and professor of psychology at BYU, is in favor of a change.
“There is no data that I am aware of to suggest that [the] Provo prohibition cuts into sales of beer, people just go elsewhere,” Miller said. “Thus, the tax revenue goes to other cities instead.”

Miller said the current financial climate has helped the conversation reach critical mass.

“I think it’s the budget consciousnesses in this era of recession that’s pushing the city council to revisit the ordinance,” Miller said.

While there are those who wish to keep the ban, Glen Thurston, a chemistry student from Provo who lost in last week’s primary election for city council, said the loudest voices are in favor of lifting the purchasing ban.

“While you do have a kind of moral or health and public safety issue, the people who are speaking the loudest say that we should repeal the ban,” Thurston said.

Provo Mayor John Curtis agrees with lifting the ban, saying those who buy alcohol don’t change their behavior on Sunday.

“Anybody who can drink responsibly during the week could do so on Sunday as well,” Anderson said on behalf of Curtis.

Brian Low, a freshman from Oakridge, Tenn., agrees with the mayor.
“I know a bunch of people who drink alcohol and they are not bad people,” Thomas said. “I feel like selling alcohol on Sunday isn’t going to make that big of a difference in the crime rate. I think that crime would happen either way.”

The Provo City Council will meet in a work session on Tuesday to discuss repealing the ordinance. If they decide to repeal it, a vote could be held the following week. An ordinance repeal would be effective immediately after the vote.

The work session is open to the public and Provo city residents are encouraged to attend. The event will be held at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at the Provo City Center, 351 W. Center St.

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