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Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

Bill's Training Provision Makes Allies Of Opponents In Sunday Alcohol Debate

Wayan Vota

Indiana liquor stores, once the biggest opponents of legislation legalizing Sunday alcohol sales, are now backing the bill after a House committee made a major change Wednesday.

The original bill simply legalized Sunday alcohol sales.  The amended bill does that too, while creating significant new regulations for non-liquor stores that sell alcohol. 

The measure would require clerks at grocery and convenience stores to undergo the same training that liquor store employees do. 

Alcohol would have to be confined to one area of a grocery store, and hard liquor would have to be put behind a counter where an employee would access it for customers. 

Those regulations have groups such as the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking backing the bill. 

Mary Walker is a community activist who’s long been opposed to Sunday sales, saying it would increase access to alcohol.  But she’s switching sides in light of the changes.

“We do not have a level playing field out here and I think this amendment is a first step toward everybody who sells the same product operating under the same rules,” Walker says.

Opponents of the measure, which now include stores such as Kroger and Wal-mart, say the regulations will be a huge burden for the stores and their customers.  The committee approved the bill, sending it to the House floor.

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