Pa. lawmakers cleaning up old laws on Sunday baseball, public music

In the 1930s, Pennsylvania made it illegal to play baseball and other sports at certain times on Sundays. (AP Photo)

In the 1930s, Pennsylvania made it illegal to play baseball and other sports at certain times on Sundays. (AP Photo)

As the weather warms, some state lawmakers are attempting their own brand of spring cleaning — wiping some defunct laws off Pennsylvania’s books, as well as getting rid of boards, committees, and other groups that are no longer active.

In 1933, some long-gone group of lawmakers decided to ban football and baseball games before 2 p.m. and after 6 p.m. on Sundays. Around the same time, they also regulated the hours when people could attend concerts and movies.

These are prime examples of the “blue laws” that once aimed to control how people spent Sundays.

On Tuesday, the House State Government Committee moved to get rid of them. It wasn’t a controversial decision.

“We’ll now be able to have concerts on Sunday afternoons,” chairman Garth Everett quipped, to laughter. “Any negative votes?”

There was none.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court declared most of the old blue laws unenforceable in 1978. But Wayne County Republican Jonathan Fritz, who’s involved in the repeal process, pointed out that they’re still on the books.

“The idea just came from, really, an overall intent of just cleaning up government,” he said.

Fritz is also pushing a bill that would get rid of nine state boards and other groups that, he said, have all been defunct for at least a few years.

“We reached out to each one of these committees to say, explain to us what you do and why you should still be on the books and why you should still exist, and they didn’t get back to us,” he noted.

The groups range from a Small Business Advocacy Council, to something called the Weather Modification Board.

Fritz said he initially presented Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration with a list of 16 groups he wanted to cut, and they agreed on eight. It was the administration’s decision to add the weatherboard to the mix.

However, the Democrats on the House State Government Committee said they hadn’t been notified of the administration’s support for the bill, and told the GOP sponsors they had reservations.

They all voted no, leaving the bill to pass on party lines.

A spokesman for Wolf did not confirm whether the administration supports Fritz’s bill.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.