The Decatur City Council on Monday unveiled an ordinance that would allow both on- and off-premise liquor sales on Sundays, if voters approve this April at the ballot box.

On April 13, voters will cast ballots in support or opposition to Sunday liquor sales.

Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce officials said not further restricting Sunday sales was the obvious choice considering the revenue generated by alcohol sales at off-premise locations, which include package, grocery and convenience stores.

“The on-premise piece of the business is only 5.37 percent, and so if only on-premise sales were permitted, there would still be a huge leakage of revenue to Huntsville, the city of Madison and Madison County,” said chamber Chairman Wade Weaver.

The suggested ordinance reflects the majority of Sunday sales laws throughout the state.

Read full article in today’s Decatur Daily here.

From AP Tuscaloosa:

Alabama’s state Senate has approved a local bill that would allow a referendum on Sunday liquor sales in Tuscaloosa.

The state Senate passed a local bill Tuesday that would allow the City Council to schedule a referendum on the issue.

The bill now goes to Gov. Bob Riley, who has not indicated what he will do. His choices are to send it back to the Legislature with suggestions, sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature.

The referendum would ask voters whether to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays between noon and 9:30 p.m. When a Sunday falls on a New Year’s Eve, alcoholic beverages could be sold until 2 a.m. Monday.

Full story here.

Last week Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation repealing the Prohibition-era ban on Election Day alcohol sales.  Election Day alcohol bans are truly a relic of the Prohibition era when saloons sometimes served as polling stations.  Indiana had a particularly harsh Election Day ban considering restaurant goers couldn’t even get a cocktail while the polls were open.  Only Kentucky and South Carolina have similarly harsh bans.  Each of those states are also considering repeal as more and more states continue to modernize outdated alcohol laws.

For now, we raise a toast to Indiana for recognizing how irrational its Election Day alcohol sales ban had become, and for striking it down for good. 

Read more about the bill here: New Indiana alcohol law raises businesses’ spirits

One revenue source Connecticut voters would like to see implemented is Sunday alcohol sales — according to a new Quinnipiac poll released yesterday.

The poll found voters in favor of allowing Sunday alcohol sales in liquor stores by a count of 56-39, up several ticks from the last Q poll on the topic. 

The poll was taken March 9-15 and surveyed 1,451 registered state voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Click here to read more: Rell’s keno proposal panned in survey of state voters

In a strong move toward modernizing Virginia’s alcohol laws, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell signed legislation knocking down a decades-old ban on liquor tasting events at ABC stores, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) which said the bill modernized an outdated law that had only allowed for beer and wine tastings.  

House Bill 952, sponsored by Delegate S. Chris Jones, gives adult consumers the opportunity to sample up to three separate one-half ounce servings of spirits in any one calendar day at a pre-planned tasting event.

David Wojnar, vice president for the Council, had this to say:

“In today’s economy it’s more important than ever to give customers the tools to make better purchasing decisions.   Most consumers wouldn’t purchase a nice $40-$50 bottle of Scotch if they’ve never tasted it.  Repealing the ban on spirits tastings is a great, modern convenience for Virginians that ultimately helps Virginia’s bottom line.”

HB 952 passed the House on February 12 by a count of 75-17 and the Senate n February 23 by a vote of 31-9. Governor McDonnell signed the bill into law yesterday and it takes effect July 1, 2010.  

Forty-three states currently allow some form of spirits tasting. Thirty-one states, including Virginia, now allow spirits tastings at off-premise establishments, Wojnar noted.

A grassroots organization known as Oklahomans for Alcohol Law Reform (OFLAR) has sprung up in the Sooner State. 

As more and more states modernize outdated alcohol laws to generate more revenue without raising taxes or cutting programs, some Oklahomans feel their own state legislators should consider repeal. 

Randy Burleson, a founding member of OFLAR, recently told the Oklahoma Gazette:

“We think it’s a matter of consumer demand,” Burleson said. “We would just like to have the option. I believe retailers would like the option to be open on Super Bowl Sunday, too, or even on Sundays during the football season.  That’s money we could use in the state budget.”

Also according to the Gazette, Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who sponsored repeal legislation this session, said he knew of no public policy or public health reasons why the state should not allow Sunday sales.  Rice said:

“I suppose historically they didn’t want people drinking on Sunday, but you can always stock up on Saturday. We need to assess if this is an antiquated law that needs to be changed. I’m in favor of opening up all markets so that we can increase state revenue.”

To read the full article in the Oklahoma Gazette, click here.

To learn more about Oklahomans for Alcohol Law Reform, visit: www.ofalr.com.

Connecticut’s Legislative Program Review and Investigations (PRI) committee held a public hearing Monday on the state’s current Sunday alcohol sales ban. 

Connecticut remains one of only three states in the entire nation that still prohibit Sunday sales of beer, wine and spirits. Indiana and Georgia are the other two.

The hearing, attended by about 100 people, lasted nearly four hours.  It was prompted by a recent PRI staff report that found Connecticut stood to gain up to $8 million in new tax revenues for the state annually from repealing the archaic ban. 

For pictures from the hearing and facts on Connecticut’s ban, click here.

“By its own estimate, the State of Connecticut would realize increased revenue in the form of additional excise tax and sales tax in the range of $7.5 to $8 million,” testified Jay Hibbard of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, referring to the independent PRI Committee’s December 2009 staff findings report.  “Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week and in today’s dual income households most shopping is done on the weekend.  Allowing the sale of alcohol on Sunday gives adult consumers more choices and added convenience.”

Hibbard added that in this difficult economy, revenue gained by Sunday alcohol sales would not only create jobs for package stores, but would also save jobs destined for extinction from harsh budget cuts.

A Distilled Spirits Council op-ed recently published in the Oklahoman and highlighted how Sunday alcohol sales are a potential revenue-raising source for state legislators looking for more funding. 

Check it out here: Liquor Law Leaves Money on the Table.

Gov. Brad Henry recently described Oklahoma’s budget condition as a “crisis” and cautioned that “important programs throughout the state are suffering,” calling the situation “critical.” Not surprisingly, lawmakers are looking under every seat cushion at the Capitol for extra funds to keep programs running. However, at least one cushion has yet to be uncovered.