Full Senate passes Sunday sales bill

January 22, 2018

Indiana’s historic Sunday sales legislation has cleared the Senate with a 39-10 vote.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, brought Senate Bill 1 before the full Senate for third reading on Monday, telling his Senate colleagues the measure is a clean bill that simply allows for Sunday carryout alcohol sales from noon to 8 p.m.

The extension of alcohol sales to the seventh day of the week would allow retailers to sell alcoholic beverages during 74 percent of all hours in a week, Alting said. He also noted the measure received unanimous support from both the Indiana Alcohol Code Revision Commission and the Senate Public Policy Committee.

There was no floor discussion prior to Monday’s vote. Senators voting in opposition to SB 1 included:

  • Sen. Eric Bassler, R-Washington
  • Sen. John Crane, R-Avon
  • Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle
  • Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem
  • Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn
  • Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen
  • Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville
  • Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown
  • Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville
  • Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives defeated Monday an amended to its Sunday sales bill, House Bill 1051, that would have allowed for full-day Sunday sales. Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, presented the amendment that would not place any time restrictions on the sale of alcohol on Sundays for carryout.

Pierce scoffed at the idea that limiting Sunday sales to noon to 8 p.m. was a step taken for public safety – an argument frequently advanced during debate on the bill – and instead said the limit was meant to lessen the financial impact the legislation would have on liquor stores. He said constituents aren’t concerned with such matters, but simply want to be able to buy their alcohol on each day of the week.

But Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, author of HB 1051, maintained that increasing the availability of alcohol would increase the number of alcohol-related crimes, so limiting Sunday sales to eight hours is necessary to ensure public safety.

The House defeated Pierce’s amendment by a voice vote on Monday. The Senate defeated a similar measure, put forth by Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, last week.

Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, also offered two amendments Monday, but later withdrew both. Delaney’s first amendment would have required convenience stores to install certain safety measures, such as a Plexiglas guard or a safe.

Convenience stores are often targets of violence, he said, and expanding the availability of alcohol sales could increase their risk. Smaltz said that issue is one that could possibly be considered by the Indiana Alcohol Code Revision Commission during its second round of meetings this summer.

Delaney also put forth an amendment that would allow for the regulation of alcohol on only three issues: the health of residents, the minimum drinking age and taxation. All other regulations – including temperature regulations – would no longer be applicable.

The Democratic representative also proposed creating a compensation package to “buy out” liquor stores who invested significant funds into permits that gave them the exclusive right to sell cold beer. Smaltz told Delaney the Sunday sales legislation was not the appropriate place to address those issues, but noted HB 1419 – dubbed “various alcoholic beverage matters” – could be a better forum.

The House has not put forth any legislation that would have expanded the sale of cold beer beyond liquor stores. The Senate Public Policy Committee considered its version of that issue, SB 26, last week, but defeated the bill with a 12-1 vote.

HB 1051 will now go back to the House for a vote on third reading, while SB 1 will be sent to the House for consideration.


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