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Opening Arguments

Sober Sundays

I participated in the annual legislative preview panel discussion on Channel 39 recently, and we were each asked to predict what might make big news in the session that's not on anybody's radar right now. I chose Sunday liquor sales. Since we're now the last state in the union that allows no package sales at all on Sunday, maybe this is the year the powerful liquor store lobby will be beaten back.

That makes me more optimistic than the guy who will actually introduce such legislation:

Phil Boots, a Crawfordsville Republican sponsoring legislation to lift the ban, doubts the outcome will be any different this year.

Asked to assess his chances, Boots candidly responded: "Slim to none." But he said he will push ahead on principle.

"(Republicans) are supposed to be free enterprise and we're supposed to be free commerce. But in this area, we're not for some reason," Boots said. "We are now the last state in the nation that allows you to go to a (restaurant) bar or sporting event and drink alcohol (on Sundays), but doesn't allow you to go to a store to buy it."

I don't think this very earth-shattering stuff. Somebody who desperately needs a bottle on Sunday and isn't smart enough to buy it on Saturday probably needs a good drying out in the hospital rather than a little help from the legislature. But Boots' point about Republicans and free enterprise is interesting, although he's not entirely right. The legislators are merely supporting one group of enterprising retailers -- the liquor store owners who don't want to have to open on Sundays to compete with grocery stores. And of course they'd make less money, too. Consumption of alcohol ins't going to go up that much because it's available one day more, so there will be more retailers chasing the same drinking dollar.

So the stores are using their clout, and the legislators are giving in to the loudest voices with the most money. That's the "some reason," Mr. Boots -- no big mystery there.


Tue, 01/22/2013 - 11:13am

But the grocery stores still wouldn't be able to sell cold beer on Sundays, nor would the gas stations and, as of yet, there are no drive-through carryouts in Indiana, as you find all over the neighboring state to the east.  Will this change, too?  Doubtful.