Chesterton Tribune



Senator Tallian's testimony on State Park alcohol bill

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State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, testified on Monday against HB 1247 before the Senate Public Policy Committee,

Her testimony:

“HB 1247 would allow DNR to have a license to serve alcohol at the state parks, and would exempt the vendor from applying for a permit. It is my understanding that the DNR already has general liquor licenses for all of its properties. But in each case now, the vendor also must go through the process of obtaining a license through regular procedures.

“On the surface, this is a bill that would apply generally across all the state parks. Just under the surface, however, there is a boiling pot of contention that has been playing out in my district for about 2 years.

“The Indiana Dunes State Park is in Porter County, along the shores of Lake Michigan, next to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, all of this park is within Senate District 4.

“On the premises, there is an old pavilion that needs repair and renovation.

“In 2012, the DNR came to me and said they wanted to have the ability to enter into a contract with a vendor who could operate a restaurant and would do the renovations as part of a long-term lease. But they couldn’t get any interest for a fine-dining restaurant unless they could serve alcohol.

“So we passed legislation, allowing the DNR to do that, but this would require the vendor to go through all the ordinary steps to obtain an alcohol permit.

“In 2014, the DNR did a request for proposals, and entered into a lease. The terms of that lease are quite controversial and caused a lot of strife in our community. The vendor applied for the alcohol permit, and to make a long story short, the vendor was denied . . . on multiple occasions.

“There was a battle, and the vendor lost.

“So now, and this is the part that irritates me, having lost the battle going through normal procedures, the vendor finds a sympathetic legislator--outside of the district--to do an end-run. And by the way, no legislator who represents Porter County is a sponsor of this bill.

“‘Give us a liquor license by statute.’ And this is wrong. It is an abuse of the process. And for this reason, more than any other single reason, I oppose this bill.”


Posted 2/23/2016




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