Indiana News

Sunday alcohol bill to require behind-the-counter sales

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) – The Indiana House Public Policy Committee is set to discuss a bill that would lift the state’s 80-year-old ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

The committee will also consider a slew of amendments Wednesday aimed at pleasing both sides in the long-running issue.

Committee Chairman Tom Dermody of LaPorte is sponsoring the bill that would allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. His bill marks the best chance for legislation repealing the ban, after numerous failed attempts.

Dermody says the amendments are a compromise and would require consistent regulation and training across the industry.

Supporters say the ban costs stores millions of dollars annually in sales. Liquor store owners fear that lifting the ban would increase their operating costs without generating any additional revenue.

House Bill 1624 is expected to be amended to include the provision that grocery stores must build a separate check-out area for customers to buy booze on Sundays. Hoosiers for Sunday Sales says this will cost grocers over $100 million. This would mean customers must buy the spirits behind a counter or even in a separate room. Liquor stores would not have to abide by the same rule. The bill also places restrictions on where the alcohol can be placed in drug, grocery and convenience stores.

“This issue has always been about bringing greater convenience and choice to consumers,” said Grant Monahan, president of the Indiana Retail Council. “Hoosiers believe that a product sold safely six days a week should be able to be sold on the seventh day. Instead of focusing on that, this amendment has turned this legislation into a debate about increasing restrictions on alcohol for consumers,” said Grant Monahan, president of the Indiana Retail Council.

Monahan says there is no reason to force certain businesses to spend these millions of dollars and “further complicate the issue.”

Lawmakers say the amendment is an attempt to make a more level playing field between “mom and pop shops” and big box retailers.