At Last: Gov. Eric Holcomb Signs Bill Legalizing Sunday Sales
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's last-in-the-nation ban on selling alcohol on Sundays is officially no more.
With the stroke of a pen -- actually six pens -- Governor Holcomb repealed a ban that's been Indiana law since statehood. Starting March 4, you'll be able to buy alcohol from noon to eight.
House Speaker Brian Bosma says the ban on Sunday sales was the very first law Indiana passed after statehood. An exemption for travelers was repealed in 1853. The battle to join the rest of the nation in scrapping the ban has stretched on for decades, but never passed even one house of the legislature, much less both. Liquor stores fought the change for years, predicting the competition with supermarkets would hurt their business. But liquor stores abruptly reversed course last fall after a special commission reviewing Indiana's alcohol laws recommended the change, and the bill sailed through the legislature with little opposition.
Even Holcomb opposed repeal in his 2016 campaign, but he's been signaling his support since last fall. He says consumers want it, and other than continuing the way things have always been done, he says there was no reason not to allow Sunday sales. He calls the bill part of a broader effort to modernize state law.
Sunday sales wasn't part of Holcomb's official legislative agenda, but a study commission is still reviewing the rest of Indiana's alcohol laws, including which businesses are eligible for alcohol permits. Holcomb says he'll be watching the commission's work, and doesn't rule out including some of its recommendations among next year's priorities.
Not everyone applauded the change. State Democratic Chairman John Zody issued a statement calling it "shameful" that legislative Republicans made Sunday sales a priority rather than Hoosier wages or quality of life. And Jay Ricker, whose Ricker's convenience stores sparked the review by getting a restaurant permit at some locations, says he's proud of playing a role in what he calls a small step forward, but maintains what Hoosiers want most is the ability to buy beer cold at convenience stores. He says he'll continue that fight after a bill making that change was defeated in committee this year 9-1.
(Photo by RTV6.)