FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – A new bill is stirring controversy in the Hoosier state. It's an issue that's brought up year after year in the legislature, but this year the bill might actually go through.
The swirling issue is selling alcohol on Sundays. Currently, Indiana state law only allows alcohol to be sold at restaurants, bars and breweries, but now state lawmakers are pushing to allow carry-out alcohol sales.
Bills have already been authored in both the Indiana House and Senate, and Indiana is the only state left in the country that bans Sunday alcohol sales. State lawmakers say Sunday sales could bring in a revenue of $10 million annually.
“What I don’t understand is they’re talking about increased revenue,” said Gary Gardner, Operations Manager for Belmont Beverage liquor stores in Fort Wayne. “They’re [grocery stores] using the same product and they sell it below cost. If you sell one dollar below cost you lose seven cents on the dollar, which is a tax that you generate. It’s kind of an oxymoron.”
Grocery store officials are in favor of the bill, saying it'll increase sales on their second most popular shopping day. Liquor store owners say it'll hurt business having to compete with super markets and convenience stores.
“There's just no doubt that some small package retailers will go out of business. Some of the larger ones will certainly, probably, drop the number of stores that they have because the business just won’t be there. You take a nice cold winter day there's one stop you're going to make, and that's to the big box stores. That's how life goes,” said Gardner with a shrug.
Other concerns by liquor store owners are relaxed regulations of alcohol sales in grocery stores as liquor stores are more heavily regulated. Gardner says he fears the potential for more drunk drivers on the roads.
“It’s going to bring along social problems, and it’s going to bring along many other problems that people aren’t thinking about right now,” he said. “There’s going to be some unemployment, there’s going to be social costs, there’s going to be more accidents, there’s going to be more DUI’s, there’s going to be, when there’s more available, more problems that come along.”
Lawmakers say if the bill is passed, liquor stores will not be required to open on Sundays. That choice will be left for the owners to make.
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