Sunday sales bill could change process

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Weber's Market Manager Stephanie Morris stocks beer Tuesday at the grocery in Marietta.

New legislation is before the Ohio House of Representatives aimed at making Sunday sales of alcohol a more straightforward feat to achieve.

In the state where prohibition began, liquor laws have evolved with the first Sunday sales permitted in 1982 and by 1998 driven by local electorates able to select specific parcels to be permitted sales permits.

But, Rep. Jim Hoops, R-Napoleon, one of the sponsors of House Bill 219, testified before the Ohio General Assembly earlier this month explaining that the permitted sales of liquor, beers and wine, has favored big-name grocery stores over small business suppliers and restaurants hoping to increase revenue on Sundays.

In Marietta, Washington County’s only state liquor distributor is preparing to compete with a large grocery this fall in retail liquor sales, while other restaurants are bidding for permits to sell alcohol as part of their business.

“Belpre used to vote all liquor sales options down,” said Washington County Board of Elections Deputy Director Peggy Byers. “But then the regulations changed to by precinct location and restaurants started to get the option in what used to be (an entirely) dry city. Now the Riverbend Restaurant in Beverly is trying to get a permit, too.”

In Belpre, Kroger is scheduled to open liquor sales in the grocery store this fall, making it only the second location in the county to offer all spiritous liquors for retail as a state liquor agency, meaning any type of liquor allowed to be sold in the state, it can supply.

“We’ve been the only one for so long though we’re not worried, maybe Little Hocking and Parkersburg will go there, but we have good loyal customers both for the deli and for our wine, beer and liquor. We have the widest selection of Ohio craft beers here, too,” said Stephanie Morris, manager and beverage control specialist for Weber’s Market in Marietta. “A lot of our customers maybe don’t realize we’re already open on Sundays though.”

Proponents of the house bill hope to clear up the confusion of different changes over time to sales regulation.

“What this bill would do specifically is allow establishments that have passed weekday liquor sales initiatives to sell on Sunday. The bill eliminates the confusing start times, and it allows small businesses to use the entire day to generate revenue,” testified Hoops. “The bill does not make a precinct or a parcel that is dry during the week wet. In a precinct that is dry for weekday sales, there are no liquor licenses at all, and nothing in this bill would change that status.”

Simply put, according to research associate Jeff Grim with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the bill as it presently reads would:

• Eliminate statutory limitations on Sunday sales of alcohol.

• Authorize retail liquor permit holders and agency stores to sell beer or intoxicating liquor on Sunday during the same hours that the permit holder may sell those products Monday-Saturday.

• Eliminate local option elections concerning Sunday sales of beer or intoxicating liquor.

• Eliminate D-6 permits which currently allow various start times for transactions on Sundays.

• Eliminate the authority of the Liquor Control Commission to adopt rules for sales on holidays.

Proponents for the bill include the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Ohio Grocers Association, Ohio Craft Brewers Association, Cleveland Whiskey, LLC, Ohio Spirits Association and the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.

At a glance:

• House Bill 219 has been introduced in the Ohio legislature to streamline alcohol regulation and permitting in the state through these methods:

• Eliminate statutory limitations on Sunday sales of alcohol.

• Authorize retail liquor permit holders and agency stores to sell beer or intoxicating liquor on Sunday during the same hours that the permit holder may sell those products Monday-Saturday.

• Eliminate local option elections concerning Sunday sales of beer or intoxicating liquor.

• Eliminate D-6 permits which currently allow different start times for transactions on Sundays.

• Eliminate the authority of the Liquor Control Commission to adopt rules for sales on holidays.

• The bill has had two hearings this month before the Commerce and Labor Committee.

Source: Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

COMMENTS