INDIANAPOLIS | Alcohol prohibition ended in the United States 77 years ago this Sunday, but Hoosiers won't be able to buy a six-pack on that day to celebrate.
Maybe next year.
State Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, said Wednesday he will sponsor legislation to end the state prohibition on Sunday carry-out alcohol sales and get rid of the law limiting cold beer sales to package stores.
"I believe it is time to bring Indiana into the 21st century and bring a free market enterprise to the state of Indiana as far as alcoholic beverages," Boots said.
Boots was joined at his Statehouse announcement by the Alliance of Responsible Alcohol Retailers, a coalition of drug, grocery and convenience stores, and Hoosiers for Beverage Choices, a group claiming 55,000 supporters seeking changes in state liquor laws. Both groups said they plan to work with legislators to enact changes when the General Assembly convenes in January.
"At a time when unemployment has hit our state in staggering ways, it is incomprehensible that we continue to allow significant dollars and corresponding jobs to cross the border into neighboring states," Grant Monahan, of ARAR, said.
Monahan said an industry study estimates Indiana loses $9 million a year in sales tax revenue and retailers lose $129 million in annual sales when Hoosiers go to other states to buy carry-out alcohol on Sundays.
Indiana is one of 14 states that prohibit Sunday carry-out sales. Hoosiers can buy alcohol in bars and restaurants on Sundays. Indiana is the only state that limits sale of cold beer to liquor stores.
Liquor store owners say allowing cold beer sales at grocery stores, drugstores and convenience stores and adding Sunday sales would force them out of business.
Similar legislation did not advance out of an Indiana Senate committee earlier this year.
Boots said the state's estimated $1 billion budget deficit may help persuade lawmakers this time. Besides added sales tax revenue, retailers would be required to pay an increased licensing fee to sell on Sundays.
"We are in a dire fiscal situation right now and any opportunity to increase revenues should be considered," Boots said.