Sunday Liquor Sales Clears Finance Committee
The Finance Committee voted 39-11 Monday to approve a bill allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
The bill limits Sunday hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and allows stores to open on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
The committee’s co-chairwoman, Rep. Patricia Widlitz, said the bill allowing alcohol sales on Sundays was a work of compromise.
In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed sweeping changes to how alcohol is sold in the state. In addition to Sunday sales, Malloy’s plan would have made changes to how package stores are permitted and allowed them to sell products below cost.
But in March, the General Law Committee changed or did away with many of the governor’s proposals, including a provision which would have eliminated the state’s minimum pricing requirement on bottles of liquor. Instead, package stores would be allowed to sell just one item per month below what they paid for it.
“I would say this the mother of compromise for this session,” Widlitz said Monday.
While it is expected that the bill will be modified again before the session is over, both the Malloy administration and the head of the Connecticut Package Store Association were happy to see it clear the Finance Committee.
Carroll Hughes, executive director of the association, spent the morning in the Legislative Office Building lobbying lawmakers to support the bill. Any other year, one might have expected to see the opposite. Hughes has spent decades beating back legislation to legalize Sunday sales.
This year, Hughes said he was happy with the work of the General Law Committee, which he credited with paying close attention to all the details of the bill and coming up with a workable compromise.
“For once the process worked the way it’s supposed to work,” he said.
Brian Durand, the Office of Policy and Management spokesman who’s been negotiating the bill with legislators for Malloy, also was urging its passage Monday.
“We’ve just been encouraging people to move it out of committee,” he said.
Durand said he expects to keep having conversations with lawmakers going forward with an eye toward getting more of the governor’s original proposals back into the bill.