Sunday carryout proposed, but cold beer still on ice

The 2018 session of the Indiana General Assembly promises to be awash with booze. At this point, however, cold beer won’t be in the mix.

There is no guarantee the legislative fight likely to ensue won’t resemble a drunken brawl.

The Alcohol Code Revision Commission, which is tasked with reviewing and recommending changes to Indiana’s current set of laws governing alcohol sales, unveiled an initial proposal this week to allow Hoosiers to buy alcohol for carryout on Sundays. That would mark a dramatic change for the state, which has not allowed the sale or purchase of any package alcohol on Sundays for decades.

However, it leaves untouched the prohibition on cold beer sales, which will undoubtedly be a perplexing omission if this specific proposal goes to the legislature.

But it is a beginning toward more sane Sunday alcohol laws.

While the majority of Hoosiers favor further relaxing the various Sunday alcohol prohibitions, the issue is laced with baggage and fueled by money from lobbying organizations promoting their own interests in the debate.

Licensed package liquor stores are the only establishments allowed to sell cold beer for carryout in Indiana. Other establishments can sell alcohol for carryout, as long as it’s not cold. Sunday carryout is forbidden for everyone.

Except, of course, for food establishments. Licensed restaurants and grill pubs can serve beer, wine and liquor on Sundays now. It’s been that way for a long time.

Hoosiers have been clamoring for more common sense in the state’s Sunday alcohol sales laws for years. But each time the legislature takes on the issue, special interests intervene in pitched battle.

It’s too early to know if things will be different this time. But we hope so.

Other proposals could be brought forward, including the cold beer Sunday sales provision. We also hope to see that surface this coming session.

As CNHI’s Scott Miley reported last week, a Ball State University survey found that 61 percent of Hoosiers support the sale of cold beer in supermarkets and convenience stores while only 31 percent oppose it.

It is clear the public is ready for the hodge-podge of alcohol laws to be fixed. For Indiana’s lawmakers, it’s time to listen.

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