INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A new panel has been created to make recommendations about how to change
Indiana’s retail rules on alcohol sales.
The Alcohol Code
Revision Commission doesn’t have any lobbyists or members with an ownership
interest in an alcohol license, the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne reported.
The group also
isn’t allowed to accept gifts or entertainment from lobbyists. However,
campaign contributions are still allowed.
“It sends a good
message to the public,” said Ed Feigenbaum, a longtime observer of the
Legislature who runs the weekly newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight.
Lawmakers on the
panel have received at least $200,000 from all sides of the alcohol
industry. The committee includes eight legislative and four lay members.
“You can’t read
votes into donations,” said Fort Wayne Democrat Rep. Phil GiaQuinta. He’s
received at least $32,000 since 2007. He said the contributions have come
from all sides.
House Speaker Brian
Bosma and Fort Wayne Senate President Pro Tem David Long said the committee
restrictions are necessary because alcohol regulation is a high-profile
issue in the state. The gift and entertainment ban was added because while
legislators and lobbyists report spending, there isn’t a similar requirement
for lay members.
"They can go to
lunch together, but the legislator can pay for their own,” Bosma said.
The two-year panel
will likely look into rules regarding carryout sales on Sundays, selling
cold beer for carryout, and the state’s three-tier distribution system.
The first meeting
is scheduled for Aug. 22 in Indianapolis.
Lawmakers created a
similar two-year panel in 2008 through 2009 to look at alcohol regulation.
The group denied Sunday alcohol sales and was against expanding the sale of
cold beer. The committee also recommended mandatory identification checks
for alcohol sales. That legislative change was later reverse after it
received widespread criticism.