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Finger Pointing Follows Death Of Sunday Alcohol Sales Bill

Lalo Martins

The author of legislation legalizing Sunday alcohol sales declared the bill dead Tuesday after he couldn’t muster enough votes to pass it out of the House.  Groups on either side of the issue are pointing fingers at each other over who’s to blame for its failure:

Grocery, convenience and drug stores, represented by the Indiana Retail Council, are on one side of the Sunday sales debate, longtime proponents of legalizing alcohol sales all seven days a week.  Liquor stores, led by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, fought against it.  But those two sides flipped when a House committee amended the Sunday sales bill.  The amendment created new regulations for the grocery stores, including a requirement to put hard liquor behind a counter and section alcohol off to one area of the store.  Retailers – including so-called “big box stores” like Kroger and Walmart – lead the charge to quash the bill.  Beverage Retailers CEO Patrick Tamm says while his organization doesn’t like the idea of Sunday sales, he thought this year’s bill, with the added regulations, was the right balance of public policy.

“Honestly, big box retailers, national dollars, international retailers just do not want to sell alcohol in a controlled, regulated environment,” says Tamm.

But the retailers accuse liquor stores of avoiding an open, free market system of alcohol sales.  Both sides say they anticipate the issue will resurface in future years.

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