INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lawmakers appear ready to bury the nation's only remaining total statewide ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales.
The Indiana House voted 87-10 Tuesday to allow businesses that sell beer, wine or liquor for at-home consumption Monday through Saturday to also sell between noon and 8 p.m. on Sundays.
House Bill 1051 passed the chamber barely 24 hours after Indiana senators endorsed the identical Senate Bill 1 by a 39-to-10 margin.
Every lawmaker representing Northwest Indiana in both the House and Senate voted in favor of ending the Sunday sales prohibition.
Now either the Senate must approve the House measure, or the House must ratify the Senate proposal to send the legislation to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is expected to sign it into law.
Similar to the Senate on Monday there was no debate among representatives Tuesday over Sunday sales.
That's likely because package liquor store owners have dropped their longstanding opposition to it, and the state's Alcohol Code Revision Commission in November recommended the change be made.
State Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, the sponsor, spent most of the two minutes that he spoke about the proposal thanking his co-sponsors and joking about how easy it was to advance a plan that in prior years badly divided the Republican-controlled Legislature.
"One of the most dangerous things that I've ever heard at the Statehouse is, 'This is a really simple bill.' But this one really is," Smaltz said.
"It's as simple as: If you sell it Monday through Saturday, you can sell it the same way on Sunday from noon to 8."
Attempts to match the Sunday sales hours with the six other days of the week, when retailers can sell alcohol between 7 a.m. and 3 a.m. the following day, were defeated in both the House and Senate — all but ensuring the issue will come up again in future legislative sessions.
Likewise, lawmakers this year declined to end the liquor store monopoly on cold beer sales, leaving Indiana as the only state in the country that regulates beer sales by temperature.