News

How’s that Sunday beer run working for you?

ChristinaBy: CHRISTINA CLARK
columnist
clark66@umail.iu.edu

Michiana residents will still have to do their B-double-E-double-R-U-N (beerrun!) to Michigan on Sundays, as the latest Sunday liquor sales bill died in the Indiana house Feb. 24.

Indiana is the last state in the U.S. to bar liquor sales on Sundays. The “blue law” has been in place for around eighty years. It has been the bane of every 21st birthday party that has fallen on a Sunday in the state for just as long.

It could have been worse though for all of you that like to indulge (legally, I presume) in the consumption of alcohol; prohibition could have stuck around, and we’d all be dealing with moonshiners and Al Capone’s grandson’s cousin’s brother for our fix. But since it didn’t, I bet you are still wondering why Indiana cannot seem to join the rest of the 49 states and let us buy carry-out liquor in-state on Sundays. Here’s a fly-by of why the latest bill failed to pass.

“The bill seeking to end the state’s 80-year-old ban made it farther – the House floor – than any other in past sessions,” according to a story by Lauryn Schroeder “Indiana lawmaker kills Sunday alcohol sales bill” on Courier-Journal.com.

The reason that it was halted? “The restrictions [amendments in bill] pitted grocery chains and convenience store owners against liquor stores. All beer and wine would have been kept in a designated area, with liquor stored behind the counter. Clerks would have had to be 21 or older and have mandated training, and consumers couldn’t purchase hard liquor at a self-service checkout,” according to Schroeder.

These latest amendments in the latest version of the bill would help sway the public to purchase alcohol at liquor package stores, continuing the tug-of-war that convenience stores and liquor package stores have had on this legislation for years.

NPR’s Sara Wittmeyer wrote that, “You might think that liquor stores would have the most to gain from Sunday sales. So why are they fighting to keep Indiana’s blue laws intact? Because Sundays tend to be one of the busiest shopping days anyways, most consumers would rather just pick up their alcohol at the grocery store instead of making another stop at the liquor store later in the week, argues John Livengood, head of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers,”

The law hasn’t changed because businesses are afraid of losing income to each other, and in the great tradition that is democracy, if the majority cannot pass the bill each time then it doesn’t pass.

In the same article by Wittmeyer, she acknowledges that “meanwhile, it’s the state’s consumers, who routinely drive across the border to skirt Indiana’s alcohol laws, who are stuck in the middle.”

Luckily, for those of us who fail to get the drinks before Superbowl Sunday or Uncle Joe’s birthday party, the state line is just a short drive for many in the IUSB area. Perhaps someday the shops will see eye to eye and Indiana can lift the law and step into the current millennium.

Links:
“Guess Who’s Fighting To Keep Indiana Dry On Sundays?” by Sara Wittmeyer, July 3, 2013, NPR.org “The Salt” http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/07/03/193865442/Indiana-Convenience-Stores-Sue-To-Sell-Cold-Beer
“Indiana lawmaker kills Sunday alcohol sales bill” by Lauryn Schroeder of the Associated Press, February 24, 2015, The Courier Journal
http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/indiana/2015/02/24/indiana-lawmaker-kills-bill-legalizing-sunday-alcohol-sales/23947273/

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