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Liquor store owners fight against open-Sunday legislation

Updated: March 8, 2013 7:40AM



INDIANAPOLIS — A bill in the House of Representatives that would allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays faced tough opposition Wednesday from liquor store owners, who said the legislation would put their businesses at a disadvantage compared to grocery stores and other retailers.

House Bill 1146, authored by Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said he created the bill to try to encourage free-market practices, and would prefer that the businesses in the state choose whether they sell on Sunday or not, and leave the state government out of the decision.

Eberhart also cited safety concerns, since consumers can go out on a Sunday to a bar or restaurant and purchase drinks, which could encourage drunken driving, but they can’t purchase alcohol from a store then drive home to drink.

“The public policy we currently have is you can go to a bar, drink all you want, then drive home,” Eberhart said. “But you can’t go to a store, buy your alcohol, then take it home, which is more reasonable.”

Supporters of the bill describe the current regulations as archaic, and a number of business organizations, including grocery store owners, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturing Association, gave their support to the legislation.

But the liquor store owners showed up in force to the Public Policy hearing, wearing “No Sunday Sales” stickers that had a red circle with a diagonal slash.

Andy Lebarnoff, owner of Cap n’ Cork Liquors in Fort Wayne, explained that there were too many costs for a business like his to be open on Sundays. He said with the added costs of employees for 52 extra days a year, as well as costs to stay open, he would have to make an additional $9 million in sales to break even.

“There’s not enough in extra sales for me to make up the costs,” Lebarnoff said. “We could survive for two or three years, after that it’s a crap shoot. There are no guarantees after that.”

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, pointed out that as a business owner, Lebarnoff would have the right to decide whether he keeps his business open on Sundays.

The bill will wait until the next committee hearing before receiving a vote.



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