INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb secured some big victories before the Legislature
adjourned, but he now faces a looming deadline to make tough decisions on
legislation pushed by powerful business interests that clash with his own
Two bills approved
by fellow Republicans would eliminate much of the current financial benefit
available to those who install solar panels, and close a legal loophole used
by Ricker’s convenience stores to sell carryout cold beer.
Both measures are
supported by GOP leaders who made sure much of Holcomb’s agenda was passed
before lawmakers left town for the year on April 22. That puts the rookie
governor in an awkward spot as he faces deadlines next week to either issue
a veto, sign the measures or let them become law without his signature.
Thus far, he has
refused to detail any action he may take, saying he was “still reviewing”
them and “looking at every angle.”
“It’s going to
sound like a skipping record,” Holcomb said. “This is just a methodical
process with me, where I carve out time each and every day and go over each
and every bill, and I’m not there yet.”
Already solar power
supporters and businesses have inundated his office and social media
accounts with opposition to a measure by Sen. Brandt Hershman that would
sharply curtail the current rate of return for solar panel owners who feed
excess power to the grid. The Lafayette Republican’s bill is supported by
the state’s investor-owned utilities that fear it could cut into their
profits if the popularity of solar power continues to grow.
the need for the bill, noting state law already has a stringent limit on the
number of people who can reap the benefit.
has spoken extensively about his vision of economic growth fueled by luring
emerging technologies and high-tech jobs to the state.
jobs that a dozen years ago were going to Austin or Boston or the Silicon
Valley are now coming to Indiana,” Holcomb said during his State of the
State address. “We saw that innovation and high-tech were keys to unlocking
the 21st century economy.”
In the case of the
cold beer loophole, lawmakers passed a bill to pause actions taken when
Holcomb was still lieutenant governor by an agency he now oversees.
stores, restaurants and taverns have long enjoyed the exclusive right to
sell carryout cold beer in Indiana, though convenience stores are allowed to
sell warm beer and cold wine.
Republicans were angered after it was revealed in March that the Alcohol and
Tobacco Commission issued permits allowing Jay Ricker to sell carryout cold
beer at two of his convenience stores after installing seating and serving
Holcomb has said
the ATC acted appropriately and within the law by issuing the permits. And
critics have ridiculed the state’s cold beer sales restrictions as absurd
while seeking to whip up populist opposition.
But liquor store
owners, who have donated generously to lawmakers in both parties, pushed
back hard. Republican leaders say actions by the ATC go against the spirit
of the law, though they vowed to take up an overhaul of the state’s
antiquated booze laws next year.
“Alcohol is a
regulated market. It’s not just a free market. You just can’t buy it
anywhere, and properly so,” said Republican Senate David Long, of Fort
Wayne. “We have to figure out whether the proliferation we’ve allowed,
somewhat inadvertently through some of the ATC’s decisions, are the right
ones or not.”
Stephanie Wilson said Friday that the governor followed both bills closely
during the legislative session and “continues to weigh them carefully.” She
added: “We’ll all know his final decisions soon."