In most states, Rayl noted, “liquor” (as opposed to beer and wine) can only be sold in package stores. In some of those states, the package stores aren’t allowed to be open on Sundays.
“If we add Sunday sales, all of the sudden we’re among the top 10 most liberal states in terms of alcohol laws,” Rayl said. “Alcohol is best sold in a controlled environment. The less access you have to it, the fewer problems you’re going to have with alcohol.”
Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, the head of the House Public Policy Committee, has been the roadblock for Sunday sales bills each of the past three legislative sessions.
The soft-spoken Davis says he’s “not supported alcohol bills in general,” but noted he’s allowed two alcohol bills — one allowing farms to run wineries and one establishing an “artisan distiller” permit — to get a committee vote.
After going two sessions in which he didn’t allow a hearing on the Sunday sales issue, Davis allowed testimony earlier this month.
But Wednesday, he announced there wouldn’t be any additional testimony taken on the Sunday sales bill, HB1146.
That meant no committee vote this session, and no chance of passage for the bill.
Even with the bill dead, however, Sunday sales proponents saw the mere fact Davis held a hearing to be progress.
“We decided it was time to at least have a hearing, to let people on both sides of the issue have a say,” Davis said Thursday. “This session, we’re focused on jobs and education, and putting people back to work, so we held the bill. But I’m sure it will be back again.”
Monahan confirmed the bill will return next session. There will be plenty of public interest when it does.