Why not on Sunday?

Blue law: Legislators need to remove remaining restriction on seven-day car sales in all counties.

March 06, 2000

FEW LAWS are as irrational as Maryland's partial prohibition of Sunday automobile sales. It's an outdated concept that should go the way of similar blue laws that kept people from buying clothes or appliances on the Christian Sabbath.

Cars are no different from any other merchandise. The only reason state law continues to make this artificial distinction is because of the General Assembly's deferrence to the interests of car dealers.

Some car dealers and salespeople would prefer not to work seven days a week. So they push for the Sunday sale ban to stay on the books to prevent their competition from getting an edge.

Not wanting to work on Sundays is a personal choice, whether for religious or other reasons. But the state shouldn't be enforcing laws that simply make that choice more comfortable for private interests.

Already, consumers can buy cars in Howard, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties, because dealers there have gained exemptions to the blue laws to allow them to compete with car salesmen in Virginia and Washington, D.C., who don't face Sunday sale restrictions. Other dealers can now make the same claims with regard to the nationwide and online dealers. All the more reason to get rid of the laws statewide.

Baltimore County Sen. Michael J. Collins has introduced legislation -- S.B. 655 -- that would add Baltimore County to the list of jurisdictions where Sunday car sales would be permitted.

Even better would be passage of legislation to bring all Maryland car sales into the 21st century.

The General Assembly should mark the new millennium by eliminating from the Annotated Code of Maryland this quaint Puritan relic that no longer serves any discernible public purpose.

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