Summer study committee to take a closer look at alcohol laws

By Christina Ramey

INDIANAPOLIS – Unworkable, unpredictable and unreasonable is how Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, described Indiana’s alcohol laws Thursday in a legislative council meeting.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, discusses taking a closer look at the state’s alcohol laws. Photo by Eddie Drews,

The council met to discuss and approve the upcoming summer study committees. The committees meet to take an in-depth look at different topics that were discussed during the legislative session and then make suggestions for future legislation.

“Study committees are an important part of the legislative process in Indiana. These committees allow legislators to examine issues on a deeper level than we may otherwise have the ability to do under the time constraints of the legislative session,” Senate President Pro Tempore, David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said in a press release.

One of the committees that will be meeting is the Alcohol Code Revision Commission and it will focus on the state’s alcohol laws.

“If there was one thing, to me, that was highlighted during this session, one unexpected thing that was highlighted, it was just how unworkable, unpredictable and in some cases unreasonable our alcoholic beverage laws are in Indiana,” Bosma said, “many of them dating back to prohibition with very little logical change to them.”

Indiana’s alcohol laws became a major focus during the 2017 legislative session after lawmakers realized the convenience store Ricker’s had found a loophole in the law, allowing the chain to sell cold beer. By installing a food service and seating area inside their stores, Ricker’s was able to qualify as a restaurant, therefore making the sale of cold beer technically legal.

The General Assembly voted to close that loophole this session. Ricker’s will no longer be allowed to sell cold beer after April 2018 when the current permit expires.

This summer study committee will be comprised of members of the legislature and field experts. Lobbyists and those who have an ownership interest in a permit or hold a permit to sale of alcohol will not be allowed on the committee. Residents will also get a chance to have their voices heard when the committee takes testimony.

“It’s going to have input that I think is essential and that’s neutral input which can be very hard to locate,” Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said about the alcohol study committee.

The study on Indiana’s alcohol laws will run for two years. The first report is due in November 2017 and will focus on the retail sector. The final report is due in November 2018.

The sale of alcohol isn’t the only topic that will be looked at in study committees. Lawmakers have 51 items to discuss during the summer. Committees will be looking at topics such as education, government, roads and transportation and more.

Summer study committees will begin meeting in the next few weeks.

Christina Ramey is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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