Indiana lawmakers send Sunday sales bill to governor

Sunday liquor sales. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The prospect of ending a ban on Sunday carryout sales of alcohol in Indiana is now in the governor’s hands.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 38-10 to approve a bill that had previously been amended to end the ban immediately instead of July 1. Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette supported the change.

House members voted Tuesday 82-10 in favor of the amended bill.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he plans to sign it, but there was no immediate word from the governor when that might occur.

“There’s a pen on my desk,” the Republican governor said earlier Thursday during the unveiling at the Statehouse of the ticket design for the Sunday, May 27, Indianapolis 500. “We’re waiting for the process to take its course. But when it arrives … we will sign it.”

When Holcomb was asked if he was planning anything special for the bill signing, he replied: “We’re working on it.”

But he was coy when asked about other measures addressing outmoded alcohol laws, such as a bill that failed this year which would have allowed pharmacies, convenience stores and big box retailers to sell cold — and not just room temperature — beer.

That’s a right primarily enjoyed by liquor stores, whose owners have fought fiercely to keep it that way.

“There’s more work to be done,” Holcomb said, adding that he would deal with those issues next session.

Indiana has prohibited carryout Sunday sales since the Prohibition era nearly a century ago. Lawmakers for decades have debated ending the ban, but those proposals all foundered amid squabbling among interest groups. That abruptly changed this year with Republican legislative leaders endorsing the change.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers Chairman Jon Sinder issued this statement:

“The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers congratulates the Indiana State Senate for voting today to concur with Senate Bill 1 which will send this historic piece of legislation to the Governor’s desk. This is only the latest milestone in the long legislative process that we expect to end with Hoosiers being able to purchase alcohol for carryout on Sunday for the first time since prohibition.

We would especially like to commend Chairman Ben Smaltz and Chairman Ron Alting for their work in shepherding this landmark bill through the Indiana General Assembly and we appreciate Governor Eric Holcomb who has indicated his intention to sign it into law.

Indiana’s small business package liquor stores have been preparing for this outcome for months by updating work schedules and if needed hiring, training and licensing new employees that reach the highest standards of safety as required by Indiana law. Indiana’s neighborhood package liquor stores have been responsible merchants of alcohol products since 1933 and we will be ready to open our doors on Sundays for the first time. We are eager to welcome our loyal customers.”