For the second time last week a bill that would allow package and grocery stores to sell alcohol on Sundays failed to be called for a vote by the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee.
Rep. Kathy Tallarita, D-Enfield, said last week she will continue to push for the amendment, which the Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates will generate an additional $2.7 million in revenue in the first year and $3.6 million in the second year of the budget.
Tallarita, who lives in a town that borders Massachusetts, says Connecticut residents already travel north to buy their beer, wine, and spirits on Sundays.
The substitute amendment allows, but does not require package stores and grocery stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. It was not called Tuesday and Thursday last week.
Caroll Hughes, lobbyist for the Connecticut Package Store Association, said he will continue to fight any Sunday sales amendment and doesn’t believe it will bring in the revenues estimated by OFA.
He said if Sunday sales are allowed 20 percent of beer sales will move from local package stores to the grocery stores and that’s just one of the trends that will help put some of his package store owners out of business.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll residents support Sunday sales 66 to 31 percent. This is the highest level of support ever for this question, up from 56 – 39 percent March 18, 2010.
But Tallarita and proponents of Sunday sales have another reason to worry when it comes to alcohol sales.
They worry the exodus across the border will only increase if a 20 percent excise tax on alcohol is adopted as part of the $1.4 billion tax package approved last week by the committee.
According to the fiscal note the finance package requires sellers to pay the additional taxes on alcoholic beverages already in their inventories as of the close of business June 30, 2011. In addition to the inventory tax the increased sales tax of 6.25 percent would also apply to purchases after July 1, 2011.
Unavailable for comment this weekend, one of the co-chairman of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee told the Associated Press she is open to considering other options that would impact those in the industry equally.
Sources say an increased permit fee for package stores, grocery stores, and restaurants had been considered, but the interested parties were unable to come to an agreement in time for it to be included as part of the budget.