Sunday alcohol sales, opioid crisis among Senate GOP’s top priorities

By Shelby Mullis
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers may be one step closer to purchasing alcohol on Sundays if Senate Republicans can convince the General Assembly to pass a bill permitting carryout sales this session.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, introduced Senate Bill 1 Monday as one of five major items on the Senate Republicans’ agenda. The bill would allow liquor, grocery, convenience and drug stores to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout on Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, introduces a bill which allows Sunday alcohol sales. Photo by Claire Castillo, TheStatehouseFile.com

Restaurants that satisfy the requirements to sell carryout would also be permitted to sell alcohol on Sundays.

“Without question, the summer study committee was a valuable tool in getting testimony from all entities of people around the state,” Alting said. “It was unanimous that it was simply the time to do a Sunday sales bill.”

Indiana is one of 12 states that does not permit alcohol sales on Sunday, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Another bill dealing with alcohol sales will also receive a hearing later this month. Sen. Philip Boots, R-Crawfordsville, authored a bill that would allow a grocery, convenience or drug store to sell beer at any temperature.

These stores are currently only permitted to sell cold wine and warm beer. Lawmakers discussed the issue in a summer study committee last year.

“Without question, I think it needed to come to Public Policy and have more people in the dialogue and the discussion that are elected to push one of these buttons,” Alting said.

Senate Republicans unveiled four additional components of their five-part agenda Monday morning, including measures to fight the opioid epidemic and support the school system.

“There is a lot of work to be done in the coming months on all of these issues, but our caucus is ready to take on those challenges,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, introduced legislation for the second year in a row that would phase in a requirement for doctors to register and search INSPECT, the state’s prescription-monitoring service, before prescribing opioids to a patient. The program tells physicians whether the patient has received treatment from another physician.

Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, talks about SB 221 which helps prevent opioid abuse. Photo by Claire Castillo, TheStatehouseFile.com

“The numbers are staggering and contribute to our addiction and heroin epidemic,” she said. “We do hope this will help to curb the over-prescribing of these very addictive drugs.”

When Houchin started drafting the bill for the 2017 legislative session, she found that only about 14 percent of practitioners eligible to write prescriptions for opiates were registered with INSPECT. Now, the number has increased to more than 40 percent—a move in the right direction, she said.

Republican Sens. Ryan Mishler of Bremen and Dennis Kruse of Centerville introduced legislation in support of Indiana’s high school.

Mishler’s SB 189 would increase school funding to account for an increased enrollment. SB 177, authored by Kruse, would convert the state’s four different diplomas into one general diploma—the Indiana diploma.

Other issues on the Senate Republicans’ agenda revolved around improving workforce development and reforming Indiana’s civil forfeiture laws to balance the needs of law-enforcement and property owners’ constitutional rights.

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

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