Indiana lawmakers introduced a pair of bills January 29 to make it the last state in the United States to end a ban on Sunday alcohol sales. The bills aim to broaden a state law that currently restricts Sunday alcohol sales to restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries, prohibiting the sales in grocery, liquor and convenience stores.
The sponsor of one bill said allowing Sunday carryout alcohol sales would bring in more tax revenue for the state, but liquor store owners contend their overhead costs would increase in order to staff their stores an extra day. Liquor store owners also contend that allowing Sunday sales spreads out six days’ worth of sales over seven days and worry that more people would buy alcohol while shopping at grocery stores instead of making a trip to a liquor store.
Illinois and other bordering states presently benefit from the Hoosier State ban that sends residents across state lines if they want to purchase package goods on a Sunday, making convenience stores on the Indiana side, not so convenient. However, many border counties in states, including Illinois, also restrict Sunday alcohol sales until after 12 p.m. Jerry Owens, 44, of more centrally situated Indianapolis, said it’s an inconvenience to not be able to buy alcohol on Sundays, but that people are familiar with the Prohibition-Era law and are accustomed to working around it.
But Republican Sen. Phil Boots of Crawfordsville, author of the Senate version of the bill, said the bill could be a money maker, bringing in $10 million annually if it passes.
Liquor store owners say competition isn’t their only concern. They contend their stores are more heavily regulated than big-box retailers and argue that the package liquor industry helps keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. “All of our clerks are licensed and trained,” Sinder said. “If we go, then the state becomes less safe.”
Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, who authored the House bill, argues that Indiana’s current law might be less responsible because it allows for Sunday carryout sales at restaurants. “How silly is that that we allow somebody to drink and drive home but we don’t allow somebody responsible to buy that alcohol on Sunday to take it home and enjoy it?” he said.
Experts on alcohol abuse and the disease of alcoholism are expected to weigh in during committee hearings.
Efforts to lift the Sunday sales ban have failed in recent years. Grocery stores hope 2013 is different, as Sundays are typically the second-biggest shopping day of the week. . “There are households that can only shop on Sunday, says John Elliott, a spokesman for grocery chain Kroger.
No date has been set for either bill.