The stroke of a pen is all that separates Indiana from legal Sunday alcohol retail sales.
The state Senate voted one last time Thursday to send to the governor a measure eliminating a Sunday sales ban that’s stood since Prohibition.
Measures to undo the law failed for decades. But this year, two of the interest groups long at odds over the issue – grocery and liquor stores – made peace and backed the effort.
So when Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) went to the microphone for one last vote on his bill, his pitch was simple.
“Vote yes in favor of this in making history in Indiana, allowing Sunday sales,” Alting said.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says it’s not this session’s signature achievement, but that doesn’t take away from its significance.
“It’s an important change that Hoosiers want,” Bosma says.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) also downplayed the bill’s passage.
“But I think it’s symbolically important that we’ve evolved our alcohol laws forward a little bit,” Long says.
Once the governor signs the bill, it immediately takes effect.
That’s a change to the measure that’s left some liquor stores scrambling. The bill was originally set to take effect July 1. The change means liquor stores aren’t sure exactly when they’ll have to open on Sundays for the first time.
Alting (R-Lafayette) says he regrets that inconvenience but says the positives outweigh the negatives.
“They’re good small business people,” Alting says. “They will adapt and they will do well with this.”
That issue aside, Bosma likely best summed up lawmakers’ reactions to final passage – at long last – of Sunday sales.
“Woo-hoo! There’s my comment,” Bosma says.
Long says he expects the governor to sign the bill next week – meaning Sunday alcohol sales will likely be legal beginning March 4.