Friday, February 13, 2015

The 80 Year War: Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana.

Personal opinion time again.

Prior to the short legislative session in 2014, the House Public Policy Committee had been helmed for too many years by Rep. Bill Davis, who was an unapologetic prohibitionist and made no bones about his preference for emasculating virtually any alcoholic beverage bills to come within whiffing distance of his hypersensitive nostrils. Since all of them had to pass through Davis's committee, there was predictable carnage.

Last year, not a lot happened in the committee on the adult libations front; then again, it was the first passage with a new man at the wheel, and a half-session.

In 2015, things have been crazy.

Look at the Onion map above. Picture Indiana small brewers, the wholesaler lobby, the groceries 'n' big boxes, and the package store group, all slugging away at their legislative agendas -- and in the process, pounding the stuffing out of each other. My theory is that after those many legislative sessions, in which Carrie Nation Davis kept reforms bottled up at committee level, suddenly there is a new sense of unfettered possibility ... and frantic maneuvering therein.

In the few days since the following was written, I'm told that the grocery chains and big boxes have turned against the package store proposal. It isn't hard to see why. One merely wonders about the extent of the collateral damage.

Deal brewing on Sunday Indiana alcohol sales, by Tony Cook (Indy Star via Louisville Courier-Journal)

Lawmakers have crafted a proposed compromise that would allow Sunday carryout alcohol sales in exchange for new restrictions on how drug and grocery stores can sell beer and liquor.

House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody plans to introduce the compromise measure on Wednesday.

RELATED | Bill loosens rules for combined Indiana alcohol sales

It would allow Sunday alcohol sales at any store with an alcohol permit, but it would create more stringent restrictions on retailers other than package liquor stores.

Those restrictions would require hard liquor to be sold from behind a counter and would require beer and wine to be located in a single aisle or a separate room. Clerks would also have to receive alcohol server training and permits.

RELATED | Fate uncertain for Sunday alcohol sale ban bill

Those new requirements are causing a sudden role reversal among grocery and liquor stores, which have been battling over the issue for years.

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