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Bottoms Up! Senate Gives Final Approval to Repeal of Sunday Alcohol Ban

Holcomb expected to sign repeal into law next week,allowing stores to start selling alcohol at noon on March 4

(INDIANAPOLIS) - After 100 years, you're days away from being able to legally buy alcohol on Sunday in Indiana.

The Senate has voted 38-10 to get rid of Indiana's last-in-the-nation ban on Sunday alcohol sales. It's the final step in legislative approval. The bill will take effect as soon as Governor Holcomb signs it, which he's promised to do. All that's left are procedural formalities -- House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long have to sign it before it goes to the governor. Long says he expects all three will sign it together some time next week, clearing the way for stores to usher in the change at noon on March 4.

The battle over the Sunday sales ban has been one of the longest-running statehouse debates. Lafayette Senator Ron Alting, the bill's author, says what broke the logjam wasn't just liquor stores finally supporting it, but a summer of discussions aimed at finalizing the wording while keeping any other changes out of the bill. He notes some past attempts to repeal the ban have been scuttled by amendments which stuffed the bills full of other alcohol legislation.

The House and Senate left the bill's wording intact throughout the process, with one exception: the House last week moved up the effective date from July 1 to the moment Holcomb signs it. Alting acknowledges that may leave liquor stores scrambling a little, but says he's confident they'll adapt. The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers says stores have already begun adjusting schedules and hiring and training new clerks.

While the bill has received intense public attention, Long concedes it's far from the most important thing the legislature will do this year. But he says it's symbolically important as a modernization of a law which had grown outdated, and as a change the public has made clear it wants.

(Photo: Ryan McVay/Thinkstock)

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