The Herald Bulletin

February 2, 2013

Editorial: It’s time for Indiana to allow Sunday alcohol sales


— It’s time for Indiana to enter the 21st century and allow alcohol sales on Sunday.

The current law dates back to Prohibition, which was a dark chapter in American history. But John Barleycorn won that fight with Prohibition’s repeal in 1933.

People like to drink alcoholic beverages and the day of the week is irrelevant.

The legislature has debated legalizing Sunday sales before but nothing has been done because of the powerful lobbying from the liquor store owners. Their reason to keep Sundays’ dry? They don’t want the competition.

That’s one of the great ironies of the free market. It requires that businesses compete for customers and dollars. Businesses, however, would prefer not to compete because it’s less costly and success is guaranteed.

Competition with other retail outlets — convenience stores, big-box stores, groceries — isn’t the only reason liquor store owners give for wanting to maintain the status quo. Their overhead costs will rise as the stores will be open longer hours with, presumably, more employees. They also contend that their employees are licensed and prevent minors from purchasing alcohol and that, in turn, keeps the state safer. What a load of nonsense.

Other outlets have the capacity to card minors and keep alcohol from getting in the wrong hands. And if the liquor stores don’t want to open on Sunday, they don’t have to. Like Hobby Lobby, they can keep their doors closed on Sunday. Of course, that’s when potential customers will go somewhere else, and that brings us back to competition.

In a free-market economy, the government, ideally, stays out of the way of business competition. Under the current law, the state picks winners and losers, said Republican Sen. Phil Boots of Crawfordsville.

Indiana is the last state in the union to have dry Sundays. And all of the 49 other states have liquor stores, most of which no doubt thrive. This is a smoke screen by liquor stores to lessen competition.

Ultimately, it might come down to money, as many things do. With the extra day of alcohol sales, the state stands to gain $10 million in taxes. In these days of shrinking tax bases, tax cuts and penny pinching, $10 million would be welcome in the state budget.

Whatever happens, the lawmakers need to focus on updating Indiana’s archaic laws and promoting a free-market economy. Passing Sunday alcohol sales will satisfy both of those objectives.