Ricker’s cold-beer bills amended in House and Senate

By Dustin Beach

 INDIANAPOLIS – Two bills which would restrict the sale of cold carry-out liquor in the future moved forward with amendments Wednesday.

Senate Bill 358 authored by Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, was originally intended to allow a minor on the grounds of a winery if a parent or guardian is present. The bill also would allow a winery or brewer to employ a family member who is still a minor.

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 liquor.

The bill was amended by a House committee on Monday, allowing Ricker’s and other locations which had received similar permits, to sell cold carry-out alcohol only until their permits run out. The amendment also called for stores to have 30 percent of their alcohol sales come from on-site consumption before being permitted to sell carry-out alcohol.

However, an amendment offered Wednesday by Rep. Anthony Cook, R-Cicero, struck much that of that language.

“The amendment I’m going to propose represents, I feel, a common sense approach to addressing the Ricker’s situation that we’ve all heard about over the past couple weeks,” he said.

Cook said his amendment would accomplish three things: allow Ricker’s to continue to operate their restaurants and renew their permits, remove the 30 percent stipulation from the bill, and provide the General Assembly enough time to fix issues in the state’s alcohol permitting code.

The amendment passed on a voice vote by the House, with few lawmakers voting no.

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, proposed a study committee to look at Indiana’s alcohol code. Photo by Abigail Godwin, The Statehouse File.

Another amendment offered by Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, would establish a study committee which would focus on fixing many issues in the state’s alcohol code.

Rep. Matthew Lehman, R-Berne, warned member of the House that while this was a good idea, this was not going to be an easy fix.

“If you’re going to rewrite this code, it’s not an easy process. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out, difficult affair,” he said. “There are so many people that have a vested interest in what we do.”

The amendment was also passed with a unanimous voice vote.

A similar bill was also heard Wednesday in the Senate.

While the House removed the 30 percent stipulation in its bill, a Senate amendment called for 60 percent of a shop’s alcohol sales to be on-site before being permitted to sell carryout liquor.

The amendment passed the Senate through a voice vote.

Even though the House and Senate have sharply different solutions to the cold-beer sales issue, lawmakers believe they are making progress.

“This is a good discussion, we’ve started down a road, a path that I think may be productive,” said Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville.

Both amended bills will need to be voted on Thursday to continue advancing.

Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


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