NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: End to Sunday alcohol sale bans could be near

Indiana’s alcohol laws may be changing at last. We’ve written those words before, and, of course, the law hasn’t changed.

But the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council said in a joint news release Friday that they have resolved differences that previously led state lawmakers to abandon efforts to overturn the Prohibition-era Sunday carryout sales ban.

Now retailers and the retail council have apparently agreed that liquor store owners represented by the beverage association will drop their opposition to Sunday sales, which they previously argued would allow grocery stores to take away their business. Retailers, in return, will oppose a proposal that would allow convenience and grocery stores to sell cold beer.

Last year, Jay Ricker, the owner of Ricker’s convenience stores, started serving burritos at two stores, which enabled him to obtain an alcohol license typically reserved for restaurants. That created a loophole that let him sell carryout cold beer. But last spring, the Indiana legislature passed a law that Ricker says will prevent him from renewing his licenses.

Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, told The Associated Press, “The package liquor store industry along with our friends at the Indiana Retail Council are committed to working directly with legislators to successfully draft and pass meaningful and impactful public policy that will allow Hoosiers to purchase alcohol for carryout on Sundays for the first time since Prohibition.”

Senate leader David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma have both said they support Sunday sales.

“I have no problem with Sunday sales,” said Long, R-Fort Wayne. “I look at it as a consumer rights issue.”

Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said, “There’s no reason why we don’t have a Sunday sales provision.”

A recent Ball State University poll conducted by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs found 61 percent of Indiana residents polled think convenience and grocery stores should be able to sell cold beer. The same poll found that 58 percent of those surveyed believe carryout alcohol sales should be allowed on Sunday.

Alcohol is a commodity, so we should look at it from the consumers’ point of view. And this is a new era and a new environment with artisanal beers, wines and spirits. If we are going to maintain a law against Sunday sales of alcohol, there needs to be a good reason.