Supporters of Sunday sales hope to bring issue back to Statehouse next year

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INDIANAPOLIS – This week, the grocery store is filled with reminders of this coming weekend’s race.

But here’s an important reminder for those new to town or coming to the race- if you’re buying alcohol at the store, you need to plan ahead.

While you can buy a beer at the race, and even bring beer in to the race, you can’t buy alcohol at the store on Sundays.

But some people are like Grant Monahan are trying to change that.

Monahan is with the Indiana Retail Council, and for years, his group’s been fighting for Sunday sales.

“I have never in all honesty talked to a single consumer who didn’t want to see this law changed,” said Monahan. “Certainly this is the biggest Sunday in Indiana year in and year out and clearly it really focuses everyone’s mind on how outdated Indiana’s alcohol laws are.”

In the past, liquor store owners have lobbied hard against Sunday sales at the grocery, worried that it would force them to open up on Sundays, and cost them money in the long run.

And besides, say opponents of Sunday sales, it’s not all that hard to find a beer at a football game or here at the race.

“There’s plenty of places to buy beer on any given Sunday. There’s thousands of on premise locations, particularly at the track,” said Patrick Tamm, president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers.

Two bills introduced during the 2013 session would have changed the law that restricts Sunday sales to restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries. But the House Public Policy Committee didn’t even call a vote.

However, there’s a new chairman in charge of the House Public Policy committee, since the last time the issue was brought to the committee.

Rep. Tom Dermody tells FOX59 he’s not ready to commit to the idea of holding a hearing on the issue next session, but he says he’s got a number of issues relating to alcohol and gambling on his plate, and he says he will listen to both sides over the summer before deciding what to do about the issue next year.

Many grocery stores and chains support lifting the ban. After all, Sunday is the second-largest shopping day of the week and allowing liquor sales would provide a boost to those retailers.

Most liquor stores, on the other hand, don’t support the change. They’d have to pay to staff their stores on Sunday—something they don’t currently have to do. Liquor stores are afraid the extra day would essentially spread out six days in sales over seven days—while they face stiffer competition from grocery stores who can also sell alcohol on Sundays.

Liquor store owners also contend that their staffs are better trained and licensed to keep minors from getting access to alcohol.