Debate over Sunday alcohol sales still divisive

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Since prohibition, Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana have been illegal. That could soon change now that two powerful lobbyists have teamed up.

After decades of public disagreement that hindered their progress on attaining Sunday alcohol sales, The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council came to a compromise on Friday.

Liquor store owners represented by the beverage association will drop their opposition to Sunday sales. In return, Retailers will oppose a proposal allowing convenience and grocery stores to sell cold beer.

The retail council’s president Grant Monahan calls the current laws outdated, and says this new deal is in the customer’s favor.

“Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week and our customers want to do all their shopping at one time when they’re doing the rest of the grocery shopping during the week they want to purchase their alcoholic beverages at the same time. Our members desire to serve their customers. Their customers want to purchase alcohol beverages on Sunday. We want to make sure that they have that opportunity to do that.”

Many local gas station owners don’t trust this sudden compromise, like Ricker’s chairman Jay Ricker.

“That’s what we call a backroom deal,” he said. “I call it a corrupt bargain. You have two entities who have been advocating different things and then they totally flip to help each other out and leave everybody else out.”

Only liquor stores are currently allowed to sell cold beer. Ricker says this new deal between the lobby groups will make it harder for him to attain his goal of selling cold beer at his gas stations. While gas station owners like him have been fighting the beverage association for the right to sell cold beer for years, he’s now upset that he’ll also have to fight the retail council on the issue as well.

Ultimately, this decision will be up to the state legislature. Representative Phil GiaQuinta, D – District 80, doesn’t know how things will shake out.

“Well one thing I’ve learned is never make predictions about what the state legislature is going to do,” he said. “So I’m not going to do that now.  I do think though talking to some legislators that there is a willingness to finally get something done here with regards to Sunday Sales but I’m not in the prediction business of what will end up happening.”

Bob Morris, R-District 84, is also unsure of how things will unfold.

“I’m not sure because of the position of some of the different representatives, but if it’s good for the state of Indiana then it’s something we need to seriously look at and do it,” he said.

The Alcohol Code Revision Commission, which GiaQuinta is on, is taking in all the issues surrounding Sunday alcohol sales. They’ll present their findings to the general assembly in January.