Indiana Sunday alcohol sales bill clears first hurdle

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 11, 2015) - For the first time ever, Indiana lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that aims to legalize Sunday alcohol sales. A four-hour debate came after years of tough opposition to any Sunday sales legislation.

“I’m going to enjoy today’s committee and leave it at that,” said State Representative Tom Dermody (R – LaPorte).

Dermody is the first Indiana state legislator to get a Sunday alcohol sales bill onto the state house floor.

“I really believed that a lot depended on the testimony and it was great discussion back and forth and pleased to see we get to keep this alive,” he said.

“It is regulated and should remain so,” said one woman who testified.  “Polling shows a growing majority of Hoosiers want this change,” said another.

Testimony in front of the committee went on for four hours.

“Indiana’s viewed behind the times,” said Dermody.

But Dermody’s bill is not a simple sale of Sunday booze. It was amended early Wednesday to completely change the way big box stores sell alcohol in Indiana.

“We need to be careful as we talk about these amendments and restrictions that we don’t design something that fits only one business model,” said a representative from Kroger.

Representatives from Kroger and Walmart testified and blasted the bill. It would require big retailers to eliminate self-checkout of alcohol products, sell beer and wine in limited sections of the store, and sell liquor from entirely behind the counter.

“From Walmart’s standpoint, it’s going to be a little over $50 million for us to retrofit our stores. These are one-time, sum costs to have the liquor segregated which is going to be a much more frustrating customer experience,” said a representative from Walmart.

“We support the chairman and his work and ask for your support of the amended house bill 1624,” said a liquor store owner.

Liquor store owners are mostly in full support. Some testified Wednesday saying the amended bill would level the playing field and allow smaller stores to compete with major retailers.

The bill is headed to the full house where it could be amended yet again. Indiana is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow the retail sale of any alcoholic product on Sundays.

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