It's not exactly a barroom brawl, but the fight over Sunday alcohol sales has unleashed a war of words over what's best for Hoosiers.
At a Dec. 7 press conference, a group calling itself the Alliance of Responsible Alcohol Retailers announced its support for another round of legislation that would allow retailers – including gas stations and big-box stores like Target – to sell cold beer and alcohol on Sundays.
At that same Statehouse press conference, state Sen. Phil Boots said he'll introduce in the 2012 session what he called "common sense" legislation that would remove Indiana from its lonely position as one of only two states that ban retailers from selling booze on Sundays, but allows restaurants, taverns and sports venues to sell it by the glass.
"It doesn't make sense to let people go into a restaurant to drink and then drive home, but not to allow them to buy it at a store and take it home to drink," said the Crawfordsville Republican.
Though similar legislation has failed in the past, Boots said this time around it will be seen as a "slam-dunk public policy issue." On his side is the influential Indiana Retail Council, which has aligned itself with the pro-Sunday-sales Alliance of Responsible Alcohol Retailers.
But before the press conference was even over, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers – which backs an effort called Project Responsible Alcohol Distribution – issued a press release predicting such legislation would fall flat.
"There is nothing new about today's announcement," said association President John Livengood, who represents Indiana liquor-store owners who oppose Sunday sales. "This legislative initiative by the big-box chain stores and gas stations delivered during the holidays is like re-gifting a four-year-old fruitcake; it's something that's been around for years and nobody wants it."