New Hampshire Senate revisits unenforced laws - keeps adultery, repeals "blue laws"

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May 6, 2010

CONCORD, New Hampshire: The New Hampshire State Senate recently revisited a couple of archaic unenforced state laws, deciding to scrap the "blue laws," which restrict business activity on Sunday, and to keep adultery a crime.

The blue laws, dating from 1883, limit business activity "except works of necessity and mercy," such as repairs to mills and factories that could not wait. The laws also ban citizens from any form of play, game or sport, and prohibit all sales other than milk, bread, medicines and other necessities.[1] Although the House already voted to repeal the laws, the Senate added amendments which must be reviewed. This includes a proposal to allow communities to license business activities on Sunday.[2]

The House also voted to repeal the 200 year old statute making adultery a crime, but the bill died on a voice vote in the Senate. In arguing against repeal, Sen. Bette Lasky noted that the statute is vague, stating "Repealing the statute is problematic without first changing the civil code."[3] When first passed, the punishment for adultery included standing on a gallows for an hour with a noose around the offenders neck. It now stands at a $1,200 fine.[4]

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