Sunday liquor sales should begin by May 20

Connecticut residents could be shopping for beer and liquor on Sundays as soon as May 20, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday morning at a post-legislative session press conference.

The governor told reporters that the bill legalizing Sunday sales hadn't arrived on his desk yet. But he quickly added that by early next week he expects to have received the measure, given it a final review and signed it.

Malloy made his remarks at the first of three post-session press conferences scheduled Thursday by him, House and Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats.

House Democrats, for the first time in recent memory, are not holding a press conference by themselves or with Democrats in the Senate. The session ended with favored bills of Democratic leaders dying from inaction.

But Malloy, whose session was saved by the late passage of a compromise education reform bill, was in a good mood.

"We all came together and got the job done," the governor said of the session that closed a budget deficit and enacted education reform, a death penalty repeal, tougher performance standards for utilities. "It's quite spectacular what they've accomplished. I'd be hard pressed to come away from this session disappointed."

Malloy also said that "while we never got off jobs" during the 2012 session, he would re-intensify his focus on putting more residents back to work starting immediately and continuing to streamline state government.

The administration already has begun researching new options to use technology and other innovations to curb spending, the governor said, adding that meetings with department heads to accelerate implementation of these ideas are under way.

"I'm really looking forward to pushing my commissioners and managers to restructure government," he added.

The legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that, while legalizing Sunday liquor sales, didn't go as far as Malloy sought in easing liquor price controls.

Still, Malloy had called it "a measure that's long past due and a good first step to making our state's package stores more consumer friendly," after the Senate gave final approval May 1.

The legislation allows liquor permittees to sell alcohol 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, on the Memorial, Independence and Labor Day holidays, and on Mondays following any Christmas and New Year's Day that falls on a Sunday.

It also creates a task force to study liquor pricing rules and increases the number of package stores a permittee may own. The new legislation also would mean an extra $5.3 million in tax and fee revenues for the state's coffers, which continue to face deficit forecasts.

No one would be allowed to own more than three package stores, up from two in current law. But that is short of Malloy's original limit of nine in a bill he proposed in January or six in a revision he released in February.

Minimum prices largely will remain intact, with one exception: Retailers can sell one item per month for 10 percent below the cost of acquisition, while Malloy's most recent proposal was for five items.

Discounted items cannot be sold for less than 90 percent of the permittee's wholesale cost.