Hoosiers debate Sunday alcohol sales

Craft Beers
A selection of craft beer including Indiana's Three Floyds Brewery's Arctic Panzer Wolf, Alpha Clause and Rye da Tiger are shown on the shelves of Elite Beverages (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A bill that would allow Sunday carryout liquor sales has been filed in the state legislature.

“I think its a great idea, as a guy that enjoys drinking a beer every once in a while, its Sunday I want a beer. Where can I get my beer unless I go to brewery?” said Will Boeckmann while walking through downtown Indianapolis.

Indiana is one of the last states in the country with a complete ban on Sunday carry-out liquor sales. But this new bill is written by the chairman of the committee that would first need to approve it, meaning the door would be open for Sunday alcohol sales.

“I think its a good idea it seems like something that the city really wants,” said Latrice Sales.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Tom Dermody of LaPorte authored the bill responding to the public’s apparent demand, turning discussion into action

“It really hasn’t been debated, its been discussed and talked about and I think the people of this state would like it one way or the other,” said Rep Dermody. He’s also the chair of Public Policy Committee, which the bill needs to pass to allow for a vote in the General Assembly.

The bill would allow for Sunday sales from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

“I’m hearing from Hoosiers,” said Rep. Dermody. “Is it time to bring us up in comparison with other states?

The 2014 WISH -TV Ball State Hoosier Survey found more than 52 percent of respondents were in favor of buying packaged goods on Sundays.

“I think its a good idea, this is a big sports town some people like to celebrate with a beverage or two,” said Sales.

But the issue is entrenched in state law.

“In some ways it is the last vestiges of prohibition,” said Katherine Gould, Curator at the Indiana State Museum.

The museum is currently showing the American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition exhibit. It chronicles the country’s and Indiana’s struggle with Prohibition

Gould says Sunday sales bans date back to 1817, and during Prohibition, went above and beyond the federal laws. But leading up to the 1933 repeal, state laws followed suit.

“We went from dry to completely wet on the issue,” said Gould

But without Sunday sales, apparently not wet enough.

“You got to plan for it on a Saturday or you have to go to a brewery and take some beer out,” said Suzanne McGill in downtown Indianapolis

Patrick Tamm, the head of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers issued a statement reading, in part: Changing long-standing public policy won’t be as simple as placing new hours on Sunday alcohol sales and attempting to change the limits on what package stores can sell…we believe the state’s public policy decision should be one that recognizes social consequences.

The leaders of both houses of the legislature expressed support to bring the bill up to a vote. Dermody says the final language of the bill is still being finalized, but said it should be ready to be heard in a couple weeks.

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