Letter: State alcohol bill is cronyism at work

From: Brent Land


Just before the end of the last session of the Indiana General Assembly, House Bill 1496 was passed. The bill effectively closes a “loophole” that allowed Ricker’s convenience stores to sell cold, carryout beer by having an attached, properly permitted restaurant, by imposing new requirements that Ricker’s would be unlikely to meet. HB 1496 requires a restaurant selling cold, carryout beer to show that 60 percent of its revenue from alcoholic beverage sales is from alcohol consumed on the premises.

This requirement is ludicrous. It would seem, by this standard, that the General Assembly would prefer to reward businesses that provide a means for people to drink in public, rather than the privacy of their own homes.

Perhaps the most egregious facet of this law is the number and type of exemptions the bill had to include in order to keep businesses the government deemed acceptable from being in violation. Fair legislation is equally applied to all businesses, without exception. To compound the issue, Indiana’s alcohol laws are to be under review in a newly commissioned two-year study. This appears to be an attempt to sweep this all under the rug and hope we will forget.

How much will this study cost Hoosier taxpayers? Who will be on the commission? Doesn’t it seem to be more efficient and responsible for each district’s representative to convene a town hall meeting or conduct a poll of their constituents? Shouldn’t they, you know, represent us?

Let’s call this what it is: Cronyism. HB 1496 only benefits the package liquor stores. They are keenly aware that if convenience stores and other high-volume retailers are able to sell cold, carryout beer, they will have to change their business models or close. Our legislators are attempting to keep a dying business model alive.

The bottom line is that our senators and representatives are public servants, not the servants of private businesses and special interests. If the market demands a change, the government should not impede that change. Email your senator and representative to demand that Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws conform to the desires of Hoosiers, not lobbyists and special interests.