Sunday liquor sales await Malloy's signature
Following 28-6 vote: Change in liquor laws awaits governor's signature
Published 6:03 pm, Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Exhausting your supplies of wine, beer and distilled spirits won't be an issue this Memorial Day weekend, following a 28-6 vote in the state Senate Tuesday that sends the Sunday sales bill to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Package stores and other retail sellers of alcohol, including groceries and supermarkets, would have the option to sell on Sundays and major holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
But small package stores historically run by families may feel the strain of the extra day of work.
Expanded consumer purchases are expected to bring in $5.2 million a year in additional tax revenue, when Connecticut leaves Indiana as the last state without Sunday retail sales of alcoholic beverages.
Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, praised Malloy for reaching beyond the issue of Sunday sales. "That was a huge undertaking, considering we have a very short session this year, for such a large issue," said Leone, who voted for the bill. "It gives those small-business owners the chance to adapt to the new change."
Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said that while the bill seems "bold" Connecticut currently is one the last two states to prohibit Sunday retail liquor sales.
But the lawmakers who voted against the bill warned that owners of small package stores would be threatened by the legislation, which will take effect as soon as the governor signs it, most likely next week.
Longer hours, flat sales and 15 percent higher operating costs could result, they said.
Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, one of the six opponents in the Senate, said during the floor debate he's concerned that package store owners, who gave up their opposition this year to Sunday sales, might become economic statistics.
Instead of attacking the state's price support system for alcohol, as promoted by Malloy, a 15-member task force will study the issue this year and report back to the General Assembly.
The bill allows voluntary Sunday openings between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Store owners who are currently limited to two permits, will be allowed to have three stores.
Also, one item per month could be offered to consumers at a 10 percent discount below cost.
Malloy, in a statement, said finally ending a long-standing blue law will be good for consumers.
"It's a measure that's long past due and a good first step to making our state's package stores more consumer friendly," Malloy said.
"Our current laws have cost Connecticut businesses millions of dollars as consumers have flocked over our borders in search of more convenient hours and lower prices," Malloy said.
"Like many other initiatives I've put forward since taking office, this bill has a simple focus: making Connecticut competitive once again."
The governor still wants to work on lowering costs, he said.
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