Legislation offered at the Capitol would expand grocery store alcohol sales. Right now, grocery stores can’t sell alcohol until 8:00 a.m. The bill from freshman lawmaker, Representative Evan Wynn of Whitewater, would push that start time back to 6:00 a.m. “Some seem to think by changing the law we’ll promote or encourage alcohol use,” noted Wynn. “I don’t know. I live in Whitewater, it’s a college town. I don’t see too many college students that set their alarm clock so they can get to the Piggly Wiggly by six o’clock.” But Wynn said plenty of third shift workers and others who shop early in the morning are inconvenienced by the status quo.
State Senator Glenn Grothman, author of the Senate version of the bill, said taverns are allowed to be open at 6:00 a.m. “Taverns are open then anyway, or at least a few of them in a big city like Madison if somebody is that desperate,” said Grothman. “You do have a few people go through with the big grocery store with everything under the sun. Why should you tell that person who made the trip down to the local grocery store at 7:00 a.m. sorry you’ll have to spin around here in another couple hours if you want to get the cold duck.”
Francie Peardon, a community educator with Eau Claire County’s Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, worries the change will add to Wisconsin’s well know problem with problem drinking. “Our current environment in Wisconsin really does promote alcohol use. I think this bill would contribute to the unhealthy alcohol environment that we already have,” said Peardon. “Alcohol is already readily and easily available in the state of Wisconsin, and this bill just makes it more readily and easily available,” said Kristen Hildebrand, an Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention member from Menomonie. The bill received a public hearing before an Assembly committee.