Last state to bar Sunday beer, wine and liquor carryout poised to raise a glass

PHOTO: Shelves are filled with bottles of liquor at a 21st Amendment liquor store in Carmel, Ind., Feb. 19, 2015.PlayDoug McSchooler/AP
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Indiana is the only state in the country that bans carryout beer, wine and liquor sales on Sundays, but the prohibition-era laws could change in a matter of days.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to sign a bill that would allow Sunday take-out alcohol sales after state lawmakers passed the measure overwhelmingly this week.

The vote put the Hoosier State on the brink of allowing residents to buy take-out alcohol at liquor stores, grocery stores, drug and convenience stores on Sundays.

State lawmakers approved Sunday sales after a decades-long battle to overturn the ban. But legislators this time gained support from the powerful and influential Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which represents more than 1,000 small-business package store owners across the state.

WHAT TO KNOW
  • Indiana is the only state in the country that bans beer, wine and liquor on Sundays, but this prohibition-era ban could all change in just a few days.

In a statement, the association applauded the passage of Sunday sales, calling it a “historic piece of legislation.” “This is only the latest milestone in the long legislative process that we expect to end with Hoosiers being able to purchase alcohol for carryout on Sunday for the first time since Prohibition,” the statement read.

That 13-year nationwide ban on alcoholic ended 85 years ago. Indiana has some of the strictest liquor laws in the country, and although this bill would allow for expanded sales, it still comes with stipulations. The bill limits Sunday take-out sales from noon to 8 p.m. And existing state law that limits Monday-to-Saturday sales to 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. will remain in place.

Despite the new law, Sunday buyers who want a cold one on the go would still have to go to liquor stores. Legally, big-box retailers and non-liquor stores are still not allowed to sell cold beer.

Indiana is the only state in the nation that still regulates the sale of beer by temperature, and it appears that it will remain that way. A bill to upend that measure failed to pass a Senate committee and never made onto the floor for a full vote.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers strongly opposed the passage of cold beer sales in big-box retail stores out of fear that it would hurt small-business owners.

Instead, the organization formed an alliance with larger retailers in late 2017. Both groups stood together and opposed the expansion of cold beer sales while throwing their support behind Sunday carryout sales.

The new Sunday carryout alcohol sales legislation will take effect as soon as Holcomb signs it, so residents could be buying alcohol on Sundays as early as March 4, just in time for spring.

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