INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Repealing Indiana’s ban on retail Sunday alcohol sales is a top priority
this year, Republican leaders of the state Senate said Monday. But a measure
that would allow pharmacies, convenience stores and big box retailers to
sell cold - and not just warm - beer faces a far more uncertain fate.
The two alcohol
proposals have been debated for decades, with powerful lobbying interests
scuttling past efforts to revise the state’s antiquated liquor laws. This
year, however, there is renewed interest among lawmakers to take up the
proposals, which enjoy considerable popular support.
The Senate even
made retail Sunday sales legislation Senate Bill 1 - a numerical distinction
typically reserved for major priorities.
“It was important
to say that we’re recognizing that its time has come,” said GOP Senate
leader David Long, of Fort Wayne. “It seems there is a consensus building
around that in the private sector among all the players in alcohol.”
The detente comes
after the issue of cold beer sales erupted during last year’s legislative
session. That’s because Jay Ricker, owner of Ricker’s convenience stores,
found a legal loophole allowing him to sell cold beer, so long as he
obtained a restaurant permit and sold prepared food.
The move infuriated
Republican statehouse leaders who said Ricker’s work-around went against
their legislative intent.
commission met during the interim to study the issue. Members voted to
formally recommend repealing the retail Sunday sales prohibition. But cold
beer, which was supported by a majority of voting commission members, came
up one vote shy of the threshold needed to formally recommend changing the
Sen. Ron Alting, who chairs the Senate committee that handles alcohol
matters, says he will bring cold beer legislation up for an up-or-down vote
in his Public Policy committee. In the past such proposals have not received
a hearing, said Alting, of Lafayette.
That’s a good first
step says Ricker, whose ability to sell cold beer was curtailed last year by
emergency legislation making it virtually impossible to renew his permits.
“We are encouraged
by today’s news,” Ricker said. “Cold beer is the number one reform Hoosiers
want in our state’s alcohol laws.”
alcohol sales legislation isn’t the only priority for Senate Republicans.
Additional items on their agenda aim to increase the number of students who
study computer coding, alleviate a public school funding shortage and tinker
with the state’s civil forfeiture law. Another proposal would compel doctors
to use the state’s opioid prescription tracking database.
majorities have acknowledged, however, that they do not have an overarching
goal for the session like in years past. Instead, they are taking up smaller
issues as they head into an election year.