For proponents of Indiana allowing Sunday liquor sales, there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, that light may be fading.
WTHR is reporting that the Indiana House Public Policy Committee voted 10-2 to send House Bill 1624 to the full House for consideration. If passed, Indiana liquor retailers would be able to sell alcohol on Sundays.
The chair of that committee, Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte), is also the sponsor of the bill. However, amendments were added to the original bill that would make it difficult for grocery stores to comply so they can sell liquor on Sundays.
“The liquor store lobby zinged us,” said John Elliott, a spokesman for Kroger. The company is in favor of Sunday liquor sales.
The liquor store lobby was able to put an amendment in House Bill 1624, which would force grocery stores to display liquor in certain locations. Also, employees of the grocery stores would have to participate in specialized training to sell liquor, something the grocery store people feel is costly and inconvenient.
“If this amendment gets in the bill, we have to oppose it,” Grant Monihan, president of the Indiana Retail Council, said ahead of Wednesday’s debate. “That’s even more of an inconvenience to customers and we would have that inconvenience seven days a week.”
The liquor store lobby, who successfully got the amendment added, consider it “good public policy.”
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that the amendment would also affect pharmacies and convenience stores, as well. Also, the amendment would ban sales from self-checkout aisles, clerks that sell liquor must be over 21, beer must be sold in a designated area, and liquor must sold from behind a counter.
“Prohibition is over,” said Dermody, who said the amended measure is about customer convenience, not helping package liquor stores or “big box” retailers.
Dermody says the bill is important because Indiana is viewed as behind the times, and as such is having difficulty recruiting out-of-state employment talent.
Lawmakers are very concerned about placement of alcohol being near displays, such as back-to-school displays. That is why some lawmakers want liquor sold in another room or aisle in the store.
Monihan countered that children are constantly surrounded by alcohol, be it a store or Chuck E. Cheese or Colts games. He said that the amendment equals “no compromise,” “a liquor store wish list” and “anti-consumer.” Monihan also said that the grocery store renovations called for will cost in excess of $100 million.