Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law House Enrolled Act 1386 which, among
other things, will allow the Department of Natural Resources to apply for
three-way liquor permits without having the approval of local alcoholic
HEA 1386, which is
to go into effect on July 1, would allow Pavilion Partners LLC to sell
alcohol at the Indiana Dunes Pavilion and at its proposed banquet center.
The bill passed
both the Indiana House of Representatives and the Senate despite protest
efforts. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, whose district
contains parts of Duneland, helped deliver a petition of nearly 10,000
signatures collected by the Dunes Action grassroots group to the governor’s
Pelath told the
Chesterton Tribune today that HEA 1386 was “an undermining plan from the
beginning” of the political process to allow Pavilion Partners to get the
license it needs to sell alcohol, with party politics a major factor.
Pavilion Partners principal Chuck Williams is 1st District Chair of the
Indiana Republican Party and has donated to Pence’s campaign.
resources exist for our enjoyment, not for exploitation,” Pelath said.
Dunes Action issued
a statement on Thursday, with co-founder Desi Robertson saying that despite
the outcome, the group has been “very successful” in educating the public
and getting people involved during the legislative session. Supporting the
opposition were organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Hoosier
Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, and Save the Dunes.
“By failing to veto
this bill, Governor Pence has struck a blow to local community rights,
opened our state park to commercialization for the sake of selling alcohol,
and demonstrated a lack of concern for small businesses in our area. The
governor missed a golden opportunity to send a strong message to the General
Assembly that these ideas are not acceptable. Instead, he signaled that our
family-friendly Indiana state parks are now up for grabs,” the Dunes Action
State Senator Karen
Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, this morning said she believes this is less about
having alcohol at the state park and more about Pavilion Partners’ effort to
build its roughly 30,000 sq. ft. banquet center.
Tallian said it is
common for business owners to turn to the legislature when the law prohibits
them from getting something they want. Pavilion Partners was denied a permit
by both the Porter County Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Indiana
Alcoholic and Tobacco Commission.
has appealed the state ruling but has said it would likely drop the appeal
if HEA 1386 was passed.
Tallian said the
bill was difficult to stop in the House and the Senate because, being an
omnibus bill, there were “many things in it that people (around the state)
HEA 1386 contained
portions of several other alcohol and tobacco bills that were packaged
together by the Indiana Assembly’s Public Policy Committee, Tallian said.
The authorization for the DNR to obtain alcohol permits for state parks was
at one time its own separate bill -- HB 1247.
In addition to
alcohol sales allowed at all 24 state parks for an annual $250 permit fee,
HEA 1386 will allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor on Sunday in limited
quantities by artisan distilleries and farm wineries, both growing
industries. Formerly part of HB 1118, the bill will also allow for new
three-way liquor permits, not to exceed more than 24, in redeveloping towns
and cities in central Indiana -- Whitestown, Lebanon, Zionsville, Westfield,
Carmel and Fishers, -- at $40,000 per initial permit.
HEA 1386 also
allows the sale of alcohol at raceways on the Sunday of the Indianapolis 500
race and alcohol permits for events at hotels owned by accredited colleges
One part of the
bill that spurred some heavy opposition from business owners was
implementing tighter controls over the sale of e-liquid, which is what is
used in vapor cigarettes.
Tallian said “it
looks like (the opposition) lost this round” but encouraged groups to
continue the fight even though she is not sure if anything can now be done
in the legislature. “It’s very discouraging,” she said.
Dunes Action said
that “in terms of what’s next, the Pavilion project still cannot move
forward without National Park Service approval, due to the state's past use
of Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. Dunes Action has never stopped
pursuing this issue, and will continue its opposition to the proposed
banquet center. The group will also focus on activities to continue
increasing public awareness and support.”
battles of this kind often take years to fight, and this is just the latest
chapter in the history of the Dunes. Like the many groups that came before
us and fought to preserve this unique place, Dunes Action has no intention
of stopping,” said the Dunes Action statement.
Pelath said one
recourse opponents can take is to remember to vote in the November. “This is
why we have elections so the people can have a say in government,” he said.