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State should abolish outdated ban on Sunday morning sale of alcohol

Raise your glass if you’re surprised that in the year 2016 we’re still feeling the effects of Prohibition.

Yep, here in New York and elsewhere we are still debating some of the leftover rules from that long-ago era.

For better or worse, legal and illegal drugs and substances can be ordered over the Internet. But if you want a mimosa with your Sunday morning brunch, you’re outta luck. A push by Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, to finally ditch this nutty ban should gain wide support.

Ryan’s legislation, with the catchy nickname “brunch bill,” would lift the ban on serving alcohol before noon on Sundays, which was adopted at the end of Prohibition. Many people probably didn’t even realize that such an outdated law remained on the books.

This may be a difficult time to promote wider use of a drug, although it is a legal one. Opioid addiction and overdoses are at crisis levels and young people in particular have access to designer and party drugs, along with cheap heroin.

Alcoholism remains a potent problem that needs to be addressed. However, we’re not talking about people getting blotto while Masses are still going on. This legislation is about letting responsible adults enjoy a drink at a bar or restaurant before noon on a Sunday.

New York’s bar and restaurant owners have taken a hit recently with increases in the minimum wage. Allowing Sunday morning alcohol sales would help their bottom line.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created a 19-member panel, the Alcohol Beverage Control Law Working Group, to study changes to regulations. The group released recommendations earlier this month calling for a change in the Sunday alcohol sales. The panel suggested two options: allowing alcohol sales starting at 8 a.m. at restaurants and bars, same as other days of the week, or establishing a process in which businesses obtain special permits for the Sunday morning sales.

The issue surfaced last fall when the Bills played in London, with kickoff at 9:30 a.m. Buffalo time. Fans who normally enjoy away games in a bar were out of luck, as were the bar owners. Fans of European soccer matches, with similarly early start times, would also benefit from earlier sales on Sunday as some bars are likely to open early to accommodate them.

After the London game with its dry start, Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke, D-Buffalo, submitted what he dubbed his “mimosa resolution,” seeking to put the County Legislature on record in favor of lifting the ban.

So-called blue laws once prohibited many activities on Sundays, including various retail and entertainment options. Most of those restrictions have been repealed. It’s time for Albany lawmakers to put an end to one more outdated piece of legislation, and help out bars and restaurants and the patrons who want to have a drink before noon on Sunday.

Let’s raise a glass to the “brunch bill.”