Indiana lawmakers held a lengthy hearing today on a bill that would allow Sunday retail alcohol sales.
The measure before the House Public Policy Committee would broaden a state law that currently restricts Sunday sales to restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries.
John Elliott spoke on behalf of the Kroger Company and the Indiana Retail Council Board. He says customers are being inconvenienced, retailers are losing money and the state is missing out on tax revenue under the current law.
“People are not going over to Defiance, Ohio, buying a case of beer, driving back to Fort Wayne and getting the rest of their shopping list. We lose that entire shopping excursioner,” he said.
Liquor store owners like Andy Lebamoff oppose Sunday sales. He says if his competition is open Sundays, he’ll open his stores, too, but overhead costs and customer age restrictions will make it difficult to keep pace with large grocery stores.”
“If I find out that at some point, that you know what, we’re losing money, it’s a losing proposition for us to be open on Sunday, then I have to make that business decision to either close ,or close some of my stores or close my business entirely,” Lebamoff said.
Others have raised concerns about social problems that increased alcohol availability could cause, like drunk driving and underage drinking.
“Selling and consuming alcohol in the state is a privilege, not a right, and protecting public health is more important that promoting customer convenience or corporate profit,” said Lisa Hutchinson with the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking.
Public policy committee chairman Rep. Bill Davis says he’ll talk with panel members before deciding whether to hold a vote on advancing the bill to the full House.