INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to get rid of the nation's only statewide ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales, and the House is poised to follow suit on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1 authorizes Hoosier businesses that already sell alcohol for at-home consumption six days a week to also sell beer, wine and liquor on Sundays between noon and 8 p.m. local time.
It passed the Republican-controlled Senate, 39-10, after its sponsor, state Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, briefly explained the terms of the measure that originated in a November recommendation by the state's Alcohol Code Revision Commission.
No senator spoke against the proposal. The entire Senate debate and vote on an issue that had stymied lawmakers for decades ultimately consumed less than three minutes of floor time.
"This is a great step toward modernizing Indiana's alcohol code," Alting said. "Hoosiers want the convenience of buying alcohol on Sunday, and now is the time to pass this bill into law."
All seven senators representing Northwest Indiana voted in favor of Sunday sales, including state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes.
Last week, Tallian urged her Senate colleagues to scrap the limited Sunday sales hours, and treat Sunday like every other day of the week, where retailers can sell alcohol between 7 a.m. and 3 a.m. the following day.
"The members of the Senate and Hoosiers expected a clean bill: Sunday sales, 'Yes or No?' Instead, we have a bill that puts arbitrary limits on the hours of availability," Tallian said.
Her proposed amendment was defeated on a voice vote.
The Republican-controlled House on Monday similarly rejected a proposed change to House Bill 1051 that would have expanded Sunday sales hours to match the six other days of the week.
Alting said limiting Sunday sales to just eight hours ensures Indiana is not moving too fast on the issue.
It also enables liquor stores, which previously resisted the change, to open for a single employee work shift instead of all day long, he said.
Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, a liquor store interest group, cheered the Senate's affirmative vote on Sunday sales, which he described as "landmark legislation."
"This is an important milestone in the legislative process, and we are eager to continue working directly with legislators to make sure that this bill is ultimately signed by the governor and becomes law," Sinder said.
The House is eligible to vote Tuesday on its identical Sunday sales legislation. However, House approval would not immediately send the measure to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature or veto.
Instead, either the Senate must endorse the House proposal, or the House must ratify the Senate-backed measure after the chambers in early February trade their approved legislation.
Both proposals also follow the traditional July 1 effective date for new Indiana laws, which this year falls on a Sunday.