The showdown between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles at this year’s Super Bowl is quickly approaching. But as millions of fans across the country will surely enjoy the game over some buffalo wings and a cold beer, Indiana residents will have a somewhat different experience.
While people in many other states are able to pick up their favorite beer, wine or spirit before kick-off, Indiana state law forbids alcohol sales on Sundays, a policy that will surely frustrate many Hoosiers and unknowing out-of-state visitors.
Early rationales behind the alcohol restriction included increasing church attendance and promoting the popular Protestant ideology of the day – a similar justification that was invoked during the temperance movement. But over time, the influence wielded by these ideologues dissipated and the so-called “blue laws” lost their popularity.
A similar trend around alcohol continues to play out in Indiana. According to a 2017 poll conducted by Ball State University, a solid majority of Hoosiers now favor Sunday alcohol sales and an even greater number support other measures like the move to allow non-liquor stores to sell cold beer.
Fortunately, Indiana lawmakers are aware of this shift in public opinion and have opted to shape their policy proposals for 2018 around constituent demands. Concrete action has already been taken. Both chambers of the Indiana Statehouse have passed similar bills that will lift the Sunday alcohol ban. Going forward, the differences between the two pieces of legislation need to be reconciled and then the measure can move to the governor’s desk for signing.
If passed, alcohol retailers and consumers alike will welcome the change with open arms. The legislation will give consumers the added convenience of purchasing their favorite adult beverages while being subject to fewer baseless limitations and increase store sales.
The president of the Indiana Retail Council, Grant Monahan, also pointed out that removing the Sunday alcohol ban will save the state an estimated $12 million in tax revenue because consumers will no longer opt to purchase alcohol across state lines.
The effort in Indiana comes at a time when other antiquated alcohol laws are being addressed across the country. For example, the so-called Zion Curtain – a wall that was previously mandated to block the view of a bartender mixing drinks in Utah – was eliminated in 2017. And other states, like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, considered loosening alcohol restrictions on when, where and how much alcohol can be purchased.
On the federal front, taxes levied onto beer, wine and spirit producers were reduced significantly – a measure that will bring down the price of beverages and incentivize breweries, wineries and distilleries to create more jobs and expand their businesses.
While the legislative actions addressing the nation’s outdated alcohol laws should be celebrated, we must stay vigilant. Other proposals like lowering the blood-alcohol arrest level for driving from 0.08 to 0.05 BAC, which will do little to save lives, run rampant. And the ever-increasing media frenzy that’s furthering unsettled science around alcohol and health threaten to sabotage the progress we’ve made on combating anti-alcohol, anti-consumer policies.
But for now, Indiana lawmakers are moving in the right direction by addressing the senseless ban on Sunday alcohol sales, an example that other states should follow. We can all raise a drink to that this Super Bowl Sunday.
Jackson Shedelbower is the communications director of the American Beverage Institute, Washington, D.C.