The Indiana State House of Representatives passed a bill Jan. 19, which would allow carryout alcohol sales on Sundays in liquor stores, drug stores, convenience stores and grocery stores.
The Senate and House measures still need to be passed by the opposite chamber, and the bill needs to be signed by Governor Eric Holcomb to enter into law, but by passing in the House with a vote of 87-10 and in the Senate with a vote of 39-10 this bill looks likely to be approved.
These actions are long overdue in the state of Indiana. Thirty-eight states permit forms of Sunday alcohol sales, and 16 states have legalized Sunday liquor sales since 2002.
Indiana's restrictions are less of a result of any supposed religious affiliation and more of a result from the competition and influence from lobbyists of liquor stores.
Because such a large portion of families do their grocery shopping on Sundays, it would be in the families’ best interests to simply make their alcohol purchases during the same trip. This would result in a loss of sales from liquor stores and a higher rate of sale in grocery stores. Because of this, it has been common practice for liquor store owners to financially support their representatives in exchange for mutual support regarding Sunday bans.
An IndyStar analysis shows from 2011 to 2016 liquor store owners spent at least $850,000 on Statehouse campaign contributions — quite a bit more than grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies spent.
It is clearly a time in which the legislature should make the wants of the people its priority. A June 2017 study by Old National Bank and Ball State University showed roughly 58 percent of Indiana residents supported Sunday carryout sales. An analysis of this data showed the percentage of Hoosiers who support these actions has been increasing for years.
Similarly, more Indiana Republicans seem to be opening up to issues such as the legalization of marijuana. Representative Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, recently said he would introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, who has been vocal about his opposition of marijuana in the past, has expressed that even he is open to studying the issue further.
Unfortunately, Hoosiers shouldn't anticipate being able to buy cold beer from grocery or convenience stores anytime soon. Senate Bill 26, which would have allowed this, was shot down by the Senate Public Policy Committee 9 to 1 on Jan. 17.
Regardless, these issues need to be brought to the floor of the Indiana General Assembly as they seem to clearly be a reflection of the wants of Hoosiers.