Sunday alcohol sale debate begins anew at Statehouse

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Every year as the legislative session draws near, the debate over Sunday liquor sales begins.

But there's a big change this year.

It is a topic that is guaranteed to get a reaction of some kind. Just ask Hoosiers if they should be able to buy beer, wine or liquor on Sunday and then just step back and listen.

It's been shelved for generations. In fact, Indiana is the only state in America where you can buy a drink while you eat on Sunday but you can't buy packaged alcohol, wine or liquor at the store on the corner.

"It's like not selling cars on Sunday. Why?" Scott Klemme observed as he finished his afternoon shopping at Kroger.

Klemme has lived in Indiana all of his life and he can't believe the state still won't allow him to buy alcohol on Sunday.

"I think back in the day, it was family value. Now it's an archaic value that is not needed. It's old. Get rid of it," Klemme added.

Not everyone shares that viewpoint, however. Steve Marin says he just picks up what he needs earlier in the week, like he did Tuesday at Kroger.

"I don't really care either way. I don't think about it on Sunday anyway. Not a big deal to me," Marin said.

The concept hasn't gotten any traction at the Statehouse, but that may change in the House. The only new thing in this debate is a new chairman, Representative Tom Dermody of LaPorte, said by phone Tuesday that he is up to an open discussion for both sides.

"It's a significant change and something we have some thoughts on and we are going to be talking to the new chairman about as we get ready for the new legislature," said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers.

The package liquor stores, which are closed on Sundays, have been successful at preventing Sunday sales.

"Why are they competent to compete with drug, grocery and convenience stores Monday through Saturday and they are totally incompetent on Sunday?" John Elliott from Kroger wondered.

It is too early to determine if a new chairman will lead to change, but clearly, many Hoosiers believe the time for change has come.

"We are a consuming society. Let's consume," Klemme added.

With a new chairman comes the possibility the bill will get a hearing. If it gets a hearing, it could get a vote. Supporters believe if it does it, will pass.