An Indiana interim legislative committee recommended to the full General Assembly on Tuesday that carry out sales of alcohol
on Sundays remain banned and that liquor stores stay the only places to buy packaged cold beer.
The Interim Study
Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Issues voted 7-4 against Sunday carryout sales, and voted unanimously against recommending
carryout cold beer sales be allowed in places such as drug stores, grocery stores and convenience stores.
of retail associations called Hoosiers for Beverage Choices wants both laws changed, and vowed to push legislation on the
issues when the General Assembly convenes in January.
The coalition contends Sunday carry out alcohol sales should
be allowed, in part because Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week and people should be able to buy numerous
items in one place. People can drink alcohol on Sundays in restaurants, bars and some sporting events.
proponents also argue Indiana is losing sales tax revenue from people driving to neighboring states and buying alcohol on
Sundays. And they said liquor stores should not have a monopoly on cold beer sales.
"This is a matter of
convenience for the customer, giving them more choices," said Matt Norris, director of Hoosiers for Beverage Choices.
But allowing Sunday sales is opposed by many package liquor store owners, in part because they believe any business
gained would be canceled out by additional costs for being open another day. They say big-box grocery stores and drug stores
could easily absorb any extra costs, and Sunday sales would change alcohol buying habits in those retailers’ favor. They also
argued Tuesday against cold beer sales from venues other than liquor stores.
"The dramatic expansion of cold
beer sales being proposed would destroy the package store industry in every corner of this state," said John Livengood,
president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which represents many of the state’s liquor stores.
"Both sides in this debate support the compliance check law," he said. "The difference is that only package
stores also support mandatory training, clerks licensing, adult clerks, and age-restricted marketing. Package stores are the
state’s partner in an ongoing effort to control and regulate how alcohol is sold and we welcome that role."
Some other opponents of the two proposals said they would make alcohol more accessible to minors and result in more drunk-driving
Some lawmakers on the 11-member study committee said the proponents had not provided enough evidence to
recommend changing the law.
"They haven’t made their case," said Democratic Rep. Trent Van Haaften of
Mount Vernon, chairman of the committee.
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, agreed with opponents who said Sunday
sales would lead to more drunken driving and traffic deaths.
The panel voted without comment against allowing
cold beer to be sold in places other than liquor stores.
The committee did vote unanimously to recommend that
the prohibition on alcohol sales during Election Day hours be lifted. Some on the panel said it was an antiquated law.
Norris, president of the coalition seeking the other two changes, said he was disappointed in the committee’s action
but noted Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, has said he would file a bill allowing both Sunday take-out sales and cold beer
sales in businesses other than liquor stores.
"We will push forward for that," Norris said.
Livengood said he was sure proponents of the changes would not give up, but said the committee’s recommendations should
carry some weight.
"Leadership of both houses put a lot of emphasis on the importance of this committee,
so I hope the results of this committee will be apparent," he said.