Businesses on either side of legislation legalizing Sunday alcohol sales are blaming each other after the bill died in the House Tuesday. The bill’s author pulled the measure after he said he couldn’t garner enough votes to pass it.
The battle lines in the Sunday sales debate had been unchanged for years: on one side, pushing for Sunday sales, were grocery and convenience stores, led by their lobbying arm, the Indiana Retail Council. Opposing Sunday sales were the state’s package liquor stores, represented by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers.
But a committee amendment to this year’s bill flipped those sides.
The new language created significant regulations for non-liquor stores, including requirements to section off alcohol to one area of a store and put hard liquor behind a counter.
Indiana Retail Council President Grant Monahan says that amendment – which he says came “right out of the liquor stores’ playbook” – is what killed the bill.
“It was poor public policy; it was punitive,” Monahan said. “It was costly for drug, grocery, and convenience stores – would have been costly.”
But liquor stores say so-called “big box retailers” – places like Kroger and Walmart – didn’t want to sell alcohol in a well-regulated environment and killed the bill. Both sides expect the issue to come up again in future sessions.