Lexington County blue laws are history

For the first time in its history, all of the stores in Columbia Centre mall can open at the same time on Sundays after Lexington County Council voted unanimously to end the county’s blue laws.

Restrictions on sales of all merchandise except alcoholic beverages ended a hodgepodge of controls on what could be sold before 1:30 p.m. Sundays.

The restrictions were eliminated in 16 days at the request of online retailing giant Amazon.com as a condition for opening a distribution center near Cayce that is slated to bring 1,249 jobs to the Midlands.

Company officials were concerned the limits would inhibit their round-the-clock operation.

At Thursday night’s special-called meeting to repeal the laws, people opposed to the measure critized the council’s quick action. They also chastised the council for holding the meeting two days before Christmas.

“Why the timing? Why the urgency?” asked Ronnie Wood of Lexington. “Why couldn’t we have put this off? Should we have considered a referendum?”

Several people quoted scripture and expressed concern about decaying morals as they tried to get the council to vote against the repeal.

“Who is Lexington County’s king? God or money?” said Julia McCrae, another county resident.

But supporters reminded council that the entire nation is suffering from a poor economy and people need the work.

“I have hungry people in my congregation and community,” said the Rev. Timothea Sharpe, pastor of Mt. Hebron Lutheran Church in Leesville. “I have people without jobs in my congregation and my community.”

The laws were repealed as part of an incentive to recruit an Amazon.com distribution center and its 1,250 jobs to the county.

-- Noelle Phillips