Panel recommends allowing Sunday alcohol sales, withholds vote on expansion of cold beer

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INDIANAPOLIS – A panel studying Indiana’s alcohol laws voted Tuesday to recommend allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

The measure would allow stores that currently sell alcohol to sell between noon and 8 p.m. on Sundays. The recommendation will be part of a larger report given to state lawmakers that still needs final approval.

The measure comes days after a public agreement between two powerful lobbying groups – the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council – essentially a joint backing from grocery and liquor stores to push for Sunday sales.

“Oh my goodness -- good, good, good,” State Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) said.

Alting is writing legislation for the upcoming session to legalize Sunday sales.

“Any time you can get the two biggest players in Sunday sales to come together, that’s a good thing,” Alting said. “What has killed Sunday sales for over 30 years was those two entities.”

Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said the agreement was the result ongoing discussions between a pair of once-unlikely alliances.

“I’m hopeful,” Sinder said. “To say that I’m confident would imply we have some sort of exercise of power over these guys.”

Left out of the alliance, and still being debated among the commission, is whether to expand cold beer sales to grocery and convenience stores, a move the alliance will oppose.

“I call it the corrupt bargain,” Jay Ricker said, chairman of the Ricker’s convenience store chain. “We just have to keep reminding everybody there are consumers, and consumers are voters. And they want to see cold beer and they want to see Sunday sales.”

State Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) warned of any preconceived outcomes from the General Assembly and expressed concern Tuesday the committee making recommendations still has too many ties to the alcohol industry.

“The individual that’s going to the package store or convenience store or bar is not well represented in this commission,” he said.

The panel is expected to reach consensus on whether to recommend an expansion of cold beer sales during meetings next month.

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