By Dustin Beach
INDIANAPOLIS – The two versions of legislation regarding cold-beer sales saw mixed results in the House and Senate Thursday.
Both the Senate and the House were scheduled to heard bills originally intended to allow a minor on the grounds of a winery if a parent or guardian is present. Those bills also would allow a winery or brewer to employ a family member who is still a minor.
Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, argues against the bill and the thought that alcohol should not be sold where gas is sold. Photo by Dustin Beach, TheStatehouseFile.com
But lawmakers were sent scrambling when it was discovered Ricker’s convenience stores had obtained a restaurant license for two of their locations by selling made-to-order burritos. The restaurant license then permitted the company to sell cold carry-out beer.
The Senate version, House Bill 1496, succeeded in moving forward Thursday after being amended Wednesday to allow Ricker’s to continue to sell cold beer until their permit expires at the end of the year. Then to be allowed to continue, Ricker’s would be required to prove 60 percent of a store’s alcohol sales come from on-site consumption.
The bill passed out of the Senate 40-8. Opponents of the bill said the state’s alcohol laws, many of them dating back to end of Prohibition, are outdated and need an overhaul.
“Not one state, other than Indiana, regulates the temperature of beer,” said Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville.
Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, admitted that some changes needed to be made to the state’s alcohol code, but in the short-term, this bill was a solution.
“It’s our responsibility to do this as a legislative body,” he said. “To come up here and suggest to kill this bill and not deal with it, because someone, a clever entrepreneur, has found a way around these laws.”
The bill being heard in the House did not have the same success.
Senate Bill 358 underwent numerous changes since the Ricker’s discovery, and lawmakers struggled to find consensus.
The version considered Thursday would allow Ricker’s to keep their licenses and get them renewed at the end of the year. However, it would have stopped the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission from granting restaurant permits to any new grocery stores, convenience stores or drug stores for two years.
Senate Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the repsonsible thing to do is to pass House Bill 1496, but stresses many of the state’s alcohol laws are outdated. Photo By Dustin Beach, TheStatehouseFile.com
The House chose not to vote on Senate Bill 358 Thursday, meaning it will not be heard this session.
“The path forward will be to concentrate on 1496,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.
House Bill 1496 now returns to House for review.
Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.