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Conn. poised to allow retail alcohol sales on Sundays, some holidays

HARTFORD - Connecticut is one step closer to becoming the 49th state to allow retail alcohol sales on Sundays and some holidays, following the state Senate’s passage of a bill that would overhaul some liquor laws.

State senators passed a modified version of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s original bill 28 to 6 on Tuesday. Malloy said he plans to sign the bill, which would result in immediate Sunday alcohol sales.

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The compromise measure would allow retail sale of alcohol on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Supermarkets, which already sell beer, would be able to sell beer on Sundays, as well.

The state’s House of Representatives passed the bill last week after changing some provisions.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle spoke in favor of the compromise bill.

“This bill is one of the most radical and extensive reforms of our liquor statutes since the Great Depression,’’ said Senator Paul Doyle, Democrat of Wethersfield.

Like Doyle, Republican Senator Kevin Witkos of Canton spoke in support of the bill, saying that allowing package stores to sell alcohol on Sundays would be a boon to the state’s economy because it would win back business lost to nearby states such as Massachusetts.

According to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, Connecticut could gain $5.2 million per year in revenue.

Additionally, Witkos said that cutting permit fees for places that have small bars, like racquetball courts and bowling alleys, would help small businesses.

Opponents of the bill argued the opposite, saying small package store owners would suffer from feeling the need to keep their stores open an extra day.

Senator Len Fasano, Republican of North Haven, said he could not support the bill because he believes it wasn’t fairly negotiated.

“In this case the stores had to take what they got, which is the Sunday sales, to get rid of the horrible stuff that would have killed their business, that’s not a compromise,’’ he said.

For years, many Connecticut package store owners have argued that retail alcohol sales on Sundays would put many small stores out of business because they would have to hire additional staff.

But this year the Connecticut Package Stores Association said it would drop its opposition to Sunday sales.

In addition to allowing retail alcohol sales on Sundays, the bill would allow sales on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Mondays following any Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year’s Day that fall on a Sunday.

The bill also increases the number of package stores a permit holder may own from two to three and allows package stores and grocery stores to put one beer or liquor item on sale up to 10 percent below cost each month.

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