Indiana lawmakers hold public hearing to discuss Sunday alcohol sales

Many large grocery stores support Sunday sales

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana lawmakers are asking Hoosiers to weigh in on whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana.

A public hearing was held on Wednesday to hear testimony from business owners and customers.

Some lawmakers are pushing proposed legislation that would end the state's long-running ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

"Opinions have changed. More than 53,000 Hoosiers have signed a petition in support of moving our state into the 21st century, joining a growing number of states that have repealed their antiquated blue laws," said Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville.

Those numbers did not impress a Sunday sales opponent from Evansville.

"Well, according to the 2010 census, we've got 4.7 million people over 21 in the state of Indiana. So if 53,000 people have signed up and said they want change, that's one percent," said Michael Lockard.

Area grocery store chain Kroger is among the group of stores that support lifting the ban.

"If you extrapolate all of that back, then what we're talking about is $300-600 million in revenue lost to Indiana businesses just on Sunday," said Kroger spokesman John Elliott. "People are not going over to Defiance, Ohio, buying a case of beer, driving back to Ft. Wayne and getting the rest of their shopping list. We lose that entire shopping excursion."

The Indiana Retail Council also supports the ban and says that it is "unfair to consumers," costing the state $9 million in lost revenue.

Meanwhile, smaller package liquor stores say lifting the ban would make it tougher to compete with the larger grocery store chains.

"The effort is not a grass roots effort, as they claim, but rather a well-funded campaign by national chains to dominate the market," said John Livengood with the Association of Beverage Retailers. "We are asking you to protect your public policy, that we built our business on, that we depend on for survival."

The committee chairman has the ultimate power to decide whether a bill receives a vote, but Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, said he will consult with his members before deciding what to do.

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