HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — For the first time ever, the Connecticut House of Representatives is debating Sunday Liquor sales and will vote to approve it sometime tonight.
The Association that represents hundreds of small package stores around the state gave up on opposing Sunday sales, and now the Governor has given up on getting everything he wanted in the bill.
"The reality is that we are on the cusp of doing something that's never been done in the history of the State of Connecticut, and that's add 55 days of sales and consumer ease," said Governor Dannel P. Malloy.
The bill clears the way for package store sales and beer sales at supermarkets every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
But the bill does not tackle the issue of making Connecticut prices more competitive with the states that surround Connecticut. That was an issue Malloy wanted to have tackled in the bill.
"I'd like more, you know, but if it's a multi year, if it's a two year process to get the consumer, to protect the rights of consumers, if that what it has to be, it has to be," said Malloy.
"I think there's overwhelming support for the compromise, yes," said Rep. Larry Cafero (R) Minority Leader.
Both Republicans and Democrats are supporting the bill which will call for the quick establishment of a special task force to investigate why Connecticut liquor prices are so high.
"I think the task force is a great idea because these issues have not been talked about, never studied since prohibition," said Rep. Kathy Tallarita (D) Enfield.
"If you're talking about price structure, you're talking about other substantive changes in the liquor industry, it's the up stream source, that's the issue, it's the wholesalers, the manufacturers, we have to buy it from somebody," said Carroll Hughes/CT Package Store Association.
That will be tackled next year and the compromise gives the Governor the power to appoint five of the fifteen members of the task force. The rest will be appointed by the legislative leadership.
The package store association had fought this because many are small operations, and said that Sunday sales wouldn't justify the extra cost of staying open. Some research indicated the state is losing a lot of Sunday business to New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Malloy today released the following statement after House passage of a bill to amend Connecticut's Blue Laws:
"Tonight, the House voted in favor of one of the most significant changes to our state's blue laws in recent memory. Under the current law, we lose millions of dollars over the border every Sunday. It's a bad policy that inconveniences consumers and makes businesses less competitive. But after tonight, there will be an additional 55 days where sales will be permissible. It's a good first step.
I continue to believe there's more we can do to make our package stores more consumer friendly. I am encouraged that the legislature will study this issue, a sign I hope that there may be more we can accomplish in the near future. This much is certain - the more we can lower prices for consumers, the more competitive our businesses will be. And the hundreds of millions of dollars our state would recapture will unquestionably benefit our economy."
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