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Repealing Pennsylvania ‘Blue Laws’

DICKSON CITY — There are laws several hundred years old on the books in Pennsylvania that are quite the head-scratchers. That’s why lawmakers are wo...
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DICKSON CITY -- There are laws several hundred years old on the books in Pennsylvania that are quite the head-scratchers.

That's why lawmakers are working to repeal some of those laws, nicknamed "blue laws."

"It's a very old law that dates back to people resting on Sunday and people going to church on Sundays," said Casey Medeiros, who works at the family Gibbons Ford dealership in Dickson City.

One of the blue laws still on the books is that car dealerships cannot sell cars on Sunday.

"You can't finalize any paperwork or anything dated for a Sunday," added Medeiros.

Some customers like the idea of browsing the dealership lot alone on a Sunday. Medeiros understands that, but at some point, she believes dealerships need to be given that option of selling cars on "the day of rest."

"It's such a growing business. It's growing so fast," explained Medeiros. "I think it's just crazy there's still one day a week we can't do business."

Even though you can't buy a car on Sundays, you can buy a motorcycle.

Not that it matters though -- when you ask Bob Fitzpatrick how many motorcycles he's sold at his shop in Dickson City on a Sunday in the last few years, it doesn't take him long to add them up.

"I think a lot of people come in here surprised on a Sunday that we sell anything other than t-shirts and parts on a Sunday," said Fitzpatrick, the general manager of Rummel Harley Davidson in Dickson City. "Most of the time they're not even aware that there's a sales person available for them."

Fitzpatrick's Harley dealership has offices in four states. And Pennsylvania does significantly worse on Sundays than every other state; a problem Fitzpatrick blames on the outdated and irrational blue laws.

"If people knew cars would be sold, then people would understand that it's possible to buy a vehicle on a Sunday," said Fitzpatrick. "And I think we would have proportionality more business on a Sunday than we normally have."

Don't expect that blue law to change anytime soon because no one in Harrisburg is calling for an appeal. And many car dealership owners we spoke with admit the law is a blessing in disguise because it gives employees one day every week to truly unwind.

But there is one blue law that could change, which brings us to state representative Frank Farina of Lackawanna County.

In a long list of failed Sunday hunting bills before him, Representative Farina's name comes up as the most recent one to try to repeal that ban.

"There's a lot of misconceptions to it," said Farina.

As Farina explained to us at a shooting range in Wyoming County, it is illegal to hunt for deer, turkeys and many other animals on Sundays.

"A lot of people say the animals need a rest," he added. "I don't know an animal that goes by a calendar. There is a lot of ridiculousness to it."

Even more ridiculous when you learn that it is already legal to hunt for coyotes, crows and foxes on Sundays.

"Last weekend I traveled to New York hunting for ducks and if you couldn't hunt Sundays, you wouldn't go," explained Farina. "What are you going to do on Sunday? People are spending a lot of money to go out there and to have to sacrifice one day, you just wouldn't do it."

The missed out revenue of Sunday hunting is staggering according to Farina's research: $800 million in total. Money he argued the state needs now more than ever.

Farina's bill currently sits in a committee in Harrisburg.