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Senate Sends Sunday Sales To Gov’s Desk

by | May 1, 2012 6:35pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Business, Legal

Similar proposals have failed for years, but it took the Senate little more than an hour Tuesday to give final passage to a bill legalizing Sunday sales of alcohol in Connecticut.

The bill is a modified version of legislation proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. When he signs it, Connecticut will leave the company of Indiana, the only other state with a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday.

The bill cleared the chamber in a bipartisan 28-6 vote. The House passed the measure last week after a much longer debate.

In addition to allowing alcohol to be sold from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, the bill also expands package store permit limits from two to three and gives store owners the option of discounting one item per month. The legislation also creates a task force to study pricing issues, which Malloy’s original proposal modified extensively.

The General Law Committee toned down many of the governor’s proposals and the finished product was praised as a compromise during Tuesday’s quick debate.

“We wanted to really understand and try to appreciate what the real impact is if we were to adopt these radical changes,” General Law Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Paul Doyle said.

Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, said package store owners have largely come to terms with the idea that sooner or later the law would be changed to allow Sunday sales, but they don’t want to have the regulations changed suddenly.

“[The bill] gives those small business owners the chance to adapt to the change. You don’t want to disrupt a business with one fell swoop without having some measure of an ability to succeed,” he said.

Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, agreed, saying it’s unfair to change the rules on businesses in the middle of the game.

“Of course this is not a game we’re talking about. We’re talking about real lives, real dollars, and real businesses,” he said.

The changes to the bill were enough to get the Connecticut Package Store Association, an organization that has opposed Sunday sales for decades, to drop its opposition.

Though several senators rose to oppose the bill, none appeared to be attempting to filibuster or simply slow the debate with a long series of questions or by proposing amendments. Many of the six Republicans who opposed the bill said it was a better piece of legislation than what the governor had originally proposed.

Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Riverside, called the amended bill a “ball-peen hammer” compared to the original bill, which he described as a “sledgehammer.”

However, Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, said it was wrong to characterize the bill as a compromise. A compromise is the product of a fair negotiation of stakeholders with equal bargaining power, he said.

“Not where it’s David versus Goliath. In this case the stores had to take what they got, which is Sunday sales, to get rid of the horrible stuff that would kill their business,” he said.

Though he voted for the bill, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney questioned how much good allowing package stores to open on Sunday will do when Connecticut’s alcohol prices are so much higher than Massachusetts’ because of state taxes.

Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, said the bill will help package store owners in border towns like his to compete with their Massachusetts counterparts. McKinney didn’t think it would work out that way.

“I think Sen. Kissel, who’s been working hard on this issue, is going to sadly find that many of his residents who’ve gone to Massachusetts Monday through Saturday will go to Massachusetts on Sunday because our taxes are so much higher,” he said.

“The budget that was passed that raised taxes on alcohol probably did more damage to those small businesses Monday through Saturday than this bill will help them on Sunday,” McKinney continued.

Though he didn’t get all the changes he wanted, Malloy issued a statement praising the passage of the bill.

“It’s a measure that’s long past due and a good first step to making our state’s package stores more consumer friendly,” he said.

However, the governor said more should be done to help alcohol consumers. The study the bill creates is a good step toward laying the foundation for future action, he said.

“This much is clear — the more we can lower prices for consumers, the more competitive our businesses will be,” he said.

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(6) Archived Comments

posted by: SocialButterfly | May 1, 2012  8:39pm

Gov. Malloy’s added Sunday liquor taxes “are a drop from a bottle” towards our massive “quarter billion dollar atate budget deficit.”

posted by: miketcha | May 1, 2012  9:18pm

I love this quote and reference to the Governor.
“However, the governor said more should be done to help alcohol consumers. The study the bill creates is a good step toward laying the foundation for future action, he said.”

“This much is clear — the more we can lower prices for consumers, the more competitive our businesses will be,” he said.
Well, now we can sit back and see what the unintended consequences of Sunday sales and other “alcohol business reforms” bring to the state. I’m predicting increased alcohol related problems from family violence to motor vehicle accidents and eventually the closing of small   package stores. And if business minded state legislators get their way perhaps decreased “sin” taxes on alcohol because alcohol consumers have been put at a disadvantage in this state. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the world except for cigarettes; and we already know how the state has used its cigarette settlement money to take care of everything but reducing smoking in this state. Did the Governor or any legislators give much thought about how to reduce alcohol use in the state? Life is more than business/profits and taxes

posted by: Wakewhenover | May 1, 2012  9:38pm

Finally!  Puritanical CT gets it right.  Good news for consumers.  First Bill Dannel will sign that myself and 3+ million CT residents agree with, minus the over protected liquor lobby.

posted by: GMR | May 1, 2012  10:40pm


“I’m predicting increased alcohol related problems from family violence to motor vehicle accidents and eventually the closing of small package stores.”

Well, 48 states currently allow Sunday alcohol sales—only Indiana and Connecticut do not.  Are family violence and motor vehicle accidents lower in CT than the other 48 states that allow Sunday alcohol sales?  Or are you just making stuff up as you go?

This law doesn’t force stores to be open on Sunday.  It merely provides the opportunity to open on Sunday.  Just like about every other business out there.

posted by: miketcha | May 2, 2012  8:21pm

I’m not making things up, I’m giving an opinion, that’s all. Lets wait and see what happens in the state, then you can comment on my opinion. Regardless, alcohol is a dangerous drug and it should be controlled and the state should be working to reduce its negative impact on families and its cost to society. Try looking up what the cost of alcohol abuse is on society, you may be surprised.

posted by: ... | May 3, 2012  9:43am


So giving people one less day and the ability to buy cheese and crackers will ‘lead to’ irreparable damage to society miketcha?

Your argument goes the way of prohibitionists who decried the spirit in any form as a moral disease. I wonder if you added inflation what the cost of prohibition was on our society? How many people killed, beaten, etc. over illegal sales (which, btw, CT and only one other state refused to enforce, making prohibition crime in CT much lower than the rest who did).

I can agree that control, education, and social services are needed for the bad apples who abuse it and damage the lives of others. But by and large, those programs are in place quite firmly across the state and the country. MADD, DARE, and a whole host of state/independent groups work to solve the problems you decry. But those are such a broad, societal ailments that you cannot expect to eradicate the unless under a totalitarian system. Saying ‘wait and see’ will only lead you to your own assumptions.

The ideology will be if there is even one DUI or alcohol-related death on a Sunday, it’ll be because of Sunday sales (and not because alcohol is already sold and consumed on Sundays in bars/restaurants across the state).

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