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General assembly

Sunday alcohol ban likely back on shelf

– Indiana’s ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales will likely continue for at least another year after a legislative committee leader said Wednesday he didn’t plan on holding a vote on a bill lifting the prohibition.

Bills seeking to end the ban have been filed by legislators for the past several years, but a House Public Policy Committee hearing last week marked the first time lawmakers had taken up the proposal.

Committee Chairman Bill Davis, R-Portland, said the hearing gave both sides a chance to make their arguments, but he said he heard nothing new to change his position against lifting the Sunday sales ban.

Tuesday is the House deadline for bills to be approved by a committee, and Davis said he didn’t plan to have another committee meeting before then.

“We’ve got a number of issues sitting on the docket that we’re not going to hear – it’s not just this bill,” Davis said. “I didn’t see any compelling reason to have another hearing.”

Indiana is the only state that prohibits retail carryout sales of beer, wine and liquor on Sundays, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Liquor store owners oppose lifting the Sunday ban, arguing that the change would benefit large chain grocery and convenience stores that don’t have age restrictions on who can enter and don’t face the requirement that they hire clerks with state liquor licenses.

Supporters of allowing Sunday sales said it would be more convenient for customers and would eliminate an outdated law.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said he sponsored the bill ending the Sunday sales ban because he thought it was inconsistent with laws allowing alcohol sales at restaurants, bars, concerts and sporting events.

“I think it’s an issue I think needs to come out of committee, that needs to have a debate on the House floor for all of us to decide what’s good public policy for the state,” Eberhart said.

Davis said it was unlikely the proposal would be revived later in the legislative session, which is scheduled to end in late April.

Supporters of ending the ban will continue their efforts, Indiana Retail Council President Grant Monahan said.