By Jay Siskin
A House bill would give Hoosiers the opportunity to buy alcohol on Sundays.
“Sunday is one of the busiest shopping days for Hoosier families,” said Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte. “We’re one of the last states to end the ban of alcohol on Sundays.”
Eleven other states limit Sunday sales to beer and wine, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
House Bill 1399, authored by Dermody, would require alcohol to be stored in designated areas. The bill also would require grocery stores and pharmacies to separate alcohol displays from toys, school supplies, or candy.
Dermody proposed a similar bill last year, which required liquor to be stored behind a counter. Dermody pulled that bill after it did not receive enough support to pass the House.
Grant Monahan, who represents grocery chains as president of the Indiana Retail Council, said its time for a change in Indiana law.
RELATED: Previous attempts to legalize Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana
“We believe there is a positive fiscal impact for Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages,” said Monahan. “The time is now to move into the 21st century and give consumers and retailers a choice.”
Monahan said Sunday sales would help the Indiana economy because Hoosiers who live near state lines wouldn’t have to drive across state borders in order to purchase alcohol.
“People who go across borders to buy alcohol won’t have to do that anymore with this new law,” said Monahan. “Indiana will gain in sales tax with more purchases here.”
Matt Bell, a spokesman for Big Red Liquors, mentioned the section of state law dealing with alcohol begins by declaring the law’s purpose is to protect Indiana’s economic welfare and well being of Hoosiers.
“Our job is to limit the use of alcoholic beverages in the state of Indiana. That’s what our state code tells us to do. Its been said that our laws are old.… They date back 80 years and they work,” Bell said.
The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers said the bill would hurt small liquor stores that are not open on Sundays by making it easier for big box stores.
“We believe that alcohol is not the same as other consumer products,” said Patrick Tamm the association’s president and CEO. “Alcohol is not butter, milk, or candy.”
Lisa Hutcheson, who represents Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, said the new bill would allow more opportunities for people who are 21 or younger to consume alcoholic beverages.
“Historically, we have not supported Sunday sales because we believe the increase in days and hours of sale will increase the deaths by alcohol,” Hutcheson said.
In a related bill, House Bill 1274 would allow artisan distilleries to sell alcohol for carryout on Sunday.
“We’re missing an opportunity by not allowing carryout sales on Sunday because Sunday is the second biggest day of the week in terms of tourism and that’s really what this is all about,” said Rep. Edward Clere, R-New Albany.
The committee did not take a vote on the Sunday sales bill Wednesday, but members said they plan to discuss the bill next week. They also did not vote on the bill regarding Sunday sales at artisan distilleries.
Jay Siskin is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.