July 15, 2004 -- In Virginia, Sunday used to be a day of rest. But until recently, no one was fined for not doing so.
Earlier this month, amid efforts intended to rid the state's code of "blue laws," or laws intended to restrict activities and commerce on Sundays, Virginia legislators accidentally repealed exceptions to the archaic laws.
From July 1 through July 13, when the law was repealed, businesses were legally required to grant non-managerial workers a weekend day off or face fines up to $500 per worker and tripling the worker's pay rate.
Shortly after the change was identified, a Richmond Circuit Court delayed the law's implementation, pending a review of its constitutionality. The move, however, was mainly to stall until the legislature could fix the problem.
In order to correct the oversight, on July 8, Governor Mark R. Warner called a special session of the state's General Assembly for, as he said in the proclamation, "the sole purpose of considering legislation to reinstate the exemptions to the day of rest laws."
Both the state House and Senate unanimously voted to suspend the law immediately on Tuesday.
Governor Warner had originally hesitated calling the special session because reconvening the entire assembly would cost the state thousands of dollars to pay for the 140 legislators' daily stipend and mileage reimbursement. Only eight legislators actually filed for compensation.
A coalition of businesses, including CVS, Eckerd, International Paper and others, pressured the governor to call the session because they feared the judge's halt didn't provide enough legal finality to the situation.
MATT QUINN contributes to the Wall Street Journal's corporate finance blog. He has also written extensively about banking and corporate finance for publications including Inc., American Banker, and Financial Week. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.