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Published: Tuesday, 1/15/2002

Sunday liquor sense

If alcohol can be sold in stadiums, arenas, and convention centers across Ohio before 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, the same should hold true for all liquor permit holders in the state. It probably was just a matter of time - so to speak - before state legislators moved to close a loophole in the law that allows some facilities to sell alcohol at 11 a.m. on Sundays while other businesses must wait until 1 p.m.

With little fanfare, the state Senate approved a measure permitting restaurants, bars, and even grocery stores to ring up beer, wine, and liquor sales Sunday morning. But the legislation, which has yet to pass muster in the House, is not a blanket edict that requires communities to either roll back the Sunday time for liquor sales or offer the products at all.

Areas that are dry now or prohibit Sunday sales of alcohol could continue to be exempt from the legislation's provisons. They would not be affected unless local choice dictated. Moreover, the measure provides an out for communities that prefer a later selling time for alcohol through the ballot box.

Those are reasonable compromises to accommodate folks who favor relaxing state liquor laws and those who like things just the way they are. Republican senator Jim Jordan of Urbana falls in the latter camp, believing the law should stand as is.

“A few years ago,” he argued, “we said we'd stop at stadiums. Well, we didn't stop at stadiums. Pretty soon we're going to say that anyone who has a permit can do whatever they want to on Sundays.” But his fellow Republican, Sen. Larry Mumper from Marion, who sponsored the bill, says the change merely corrects an inconsistency in the statute.

Contrary to critics who complain the bill takes a step backward, it was more a move to keep everyone in step with the times. It's a modest change to Ohio law and not much more.

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