HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy plans to ask state lawmakers to expand the hours of alcohol sales in Connecticut, including Sunday sales at liquor and grocery stores.
Malloy has called a Saturday news conference in Enfield to outline his plan, which will include allowing liquor stores to open on Sunday. It would also push back closing times by up to an hour, allowing stores to sell alcohol until 10 p.m. and allow sales at bars and restaurants every night until 2 a.m.
"It's really an issue of competition," said Andrew Doba, the governor's spokesman. "For many of the border towns, it's just easier or cheaper now for someone to head over to Massachusetts, New York or Rhode Island to buy alcohol."
Similar proposals have failed to pass the legislature in past years, despite projections that it could bring in as much as $8 million in additional revenue.
Last year, Malloy said he would sign a Sunday sales bill, but did not advocate for it, and it never came up for a vote before the full legislature.
Jay Hibbard, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said with the governor's support, he expects voluntary Sunday sales to become the law this year.
"This will benefit the state, the treasury and the citizens," he said. "The governor is doing exactly what citizens are looking to government to do, which is to allow citizens to make the best decisions for their customers, their markets and their own businesses."
Currently, 37 states allow the Sunday sale of alcohol, including 15 states which have legalized the sales since 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
The Connecticut Package Stores Association has consistently fought Sunday sales, arguing that liquor stores can't afford to open seven days a week, because the cost of additional staff and other operating expenses won't be offset by the sales.
But Carroll Hughes, a lobbyist for that organization, said he believes there is plenty of room for compromise.
"We have no problem accommodating and going into a dialogue about us being open on certain holidays and some Sundays, where those days could be reasonably expected to generate some business," he said. "However, certainly 52 days is not what we have in mind, but we'll certainly be in the dialogue and discussion as to which ones we think might be suitable."
Hughes said liquor store owners would like to see other changes that ease regulations on where liquor stores can buy their products and how much time they have to pay for purchases.
Doba declined to detail everything in the governor's proposal, but said it would be more comprehensive than just expanded hours. He also pointed out that there will be plenty of time in the legislative process to further shape the bills.
Lawmakers head back to Hartford for this year's General Assembly on Feb. 8.