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NEWARK, Del. -- After more than 20 years of debate, a bill allowing Sunday liquor sales in Delaware is on the verge of becoming law.
The House approved a bill yesterday that gives liquor stores the option of opening between noon and 8 p.m. Sundays. The bill, which was approved by the Senate last month, passed 22-16 in the House with no debate and is headed to the governor's desk. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has said she would sign Senate Bill 41, according to The Newark (Del.) News Journal..
Under the bill, storeowners also have the option of closing their doors on a weekday without asking for approval from state alcohol regulators as long as hours are posted on a front door or window. The measure will come up for legislative review in two years.
"It's almost anticlimactic," said Rep. Roger Roy (R-Limestone Hills), who has worked for Sunday sales for more than 20 years. "You work and you work to get over the hill, and once you get there, you wonder what took you so long in the first place."
Rep. Robert Valihura Jr. (R-Edenridge), tried to amend the bill to have stores close at 5 p.m. Sundays, but on a voice vote the House did not let his change come up for consideration.
Valihura, who voted against the bill, said he offered the change to bring liquor stores in line with other businesses.
This is the first time since 1993, when then-Gov. Tom Carper vetoed a similar bill, that a general Sunday sales bill will reach a governor's desk. In 1995, a bill allowing Sunday sales on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve was approved.
Leo Renzette of Century Wine and Spirits in Wilmington said he's pleased the bill is headed to Minner. "It's not only good for our businesses, it's an added convenience for our customers," Renzette said. "We're very happy to see this. It's been a long time coming."
The bill was backed by liquor wholesalers and owners of stores in border areas who compete against stores in neighboring states. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and the District of Columbia allow Sunday liquor sales.