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The Indiana House of Representatives’ Public Policy Committee has delayed until at least this week deciding whether to advance a bill to allow Sunday liquor sales in Indiana.
Public Policy Committee Chairman Bill Davis made that decision after hearing conflicting testimony on the bill at a hearing last Wednesday.
It’s ironic that most of those speaking out against the bill have been liquor store owners, who say it will cost them too much to open their stores another day and they will lose market share to supermarkets and other large chain stores that sell liquor.
Their complaints say more about the state of financial health of mom-and-pop liquor stores than about the merits of this bill.
How much extra would it cost for a small liquor store to stay open one additional day per week with one employee, likely making little more than minimum wage, on duty? They already compete against the supermarkets every other day of the week, so why should Sundays be any different?
Currently all of them are losing market share on Sundays to bordering states (in Perry County that means Kentucky), as Indiana is the only state that still does not allow Sunday carryout liquor sales.
Liquor can be purchased with meals at Indiana restaurants on Sundays. And Indiana wineries are allowed to sell wine by the bottle on Sundays. So the current laws seem to be inconsistent.
Supporters of the bill, including Republican Rep. Sean Eberhart of Shelbyville and Democrat Rep. Terri Austin of Pendleton, have argued that allowing Sunday liquor sales would increase Indiana tax revenues $10 billion a year.
Opponents say there is no data to support that claim. But it seems a valid assumption that some sales are being lost to bordering states on Sundays and that there would definitely be some increase in state revenues if those buying liquor on Sundays could stay in Indiana to buy it.
Since liquor sales are allowed on every other day in Indiana and on Sundays in every other state, we see no reason why they should not also be allowed on Sundays here.
Therefore we urge the Public Policy Committee to advance the bill and for the legislature to pass it.
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