MERRILLVILLE – Only in Indiana.

Only in Indiana does the Legislature attempt to pull the state out of the Dark Ages but just gets half the job done. Indiana is the last state in the union to bar the sale of carry-out alcohol on Sunday. It isn’t a religious thing but shows the collective power of package liquor stores around the state. The package stores now have a monopoly on the sale of cold beer and they don’t want to be open on Sunday. But studies show Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the year and grocery stores would like to be able to sell alcohol.
 
The Sunday prohibition may be about to end, based on the recommendation of the Alcohol Code Revision Commission, which has been studying the state’s liquor laws for several months. Unfortunately the commission stopped a bit short when it made its recommendation to open things up for Sunday sales.You will be able to pick up beer at the grocery store on Sunday, but it won’t be cold. Nope, this is Indiana where change comes very slowly.
 
Actually, it’s a compromise of sorts. The package liquor stores backed away from the prohibition on Sunday sales, but not the prohibition on grocery stores selling cold beer. And beer drinkers know that if it isn’t cold, it’s not worth drinking.
 
Not only is the commission stiff-arming the Sunday sale of cold beer, except for package liquor stores, it also is imposing restrictive hours.  “Beer and religion don’t equate,” said state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, and East Chicago Democrat. Consequently, the commission has recommended that the Sunday sales be limited to the hours of noon to 8 p.m. The other six days of the week, liquor can be sold from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. So, if you do your grocery shopping Sunday morning, don’t expect to buy any booze.
 
The commission will make its final recommendations Dec. 8. The proposals agreed upon thus far aren’t likely to change. Some change, however, likely will come when the Legislature convenes in early January. Knowing the conservative nature of the Legislature, it could refuse to allow Sunday sales. But maybe, just maybe, the legislators will do the right thing and allow grocery stores to sell cold beer on Sunday.
 
Maybe, just maybe. 
 
Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for almost 40 years. He is retired from the Post-Tribune.