Letter: Time for state to establish sensible alcohol legislation

From: Joshua Brown


I was excited when I heard that there would be a Ricker’s opening on 25th Street in Columbus. Ricker’s has earned its stellar reputation for its well-maintained filling stations and inviting convenience stores. But more importantly, Ricker’s is also the finest purveyor of my guiltiest pleasure — a tall, ice-cold blue slushy on a hot summer day.

As construction neared completion, I read that this Ricker’s location was restoring the historic Frisch’s sign that had fallen into disrepair, evidence that they were striving to become a part of our community. It was my pleasure to stop at Ricker’s on opening week for coffee and a doughnut and it lived up to its billing — the location was convenient and the facility was inviting.

However, on my first visit something grabbed my attention — the burrito shop had a beer fridge behind the counter. While this is utterly unremarkable to the vast majority of America, Indiana’s Prohibition-era laws have enforced a monopoly on cold beer sales for liquor stores. Indiana’s alcohol laws are as complex as they arbitrary, rife with conflicts in purpose and implementation, but we will leave the irrationality and inconsistency of Indiana’s system for another letter.

When lawmakers became aware that Indiana law fully allowed the sale of cold beer in the Ricker’s Burrito restaurant, they didn’t take to the public square to make the case that Ricker’s lawful sales caused any harm. Indiana lawmakers couldn’t defend making Ricker’s sales illegal outright, so instead, they opted to weasel around public opinion and quickly change the regulatory goal posts on Ricker’s.

This was sold as a temporary measure, but now we see that a two-year study commission has just been launched conveniently burying this issue past the next election cycle. Ricker’s will be suffering real damages when its legally obtained liquor license is not renewed and our politicians are taking the easy way out of doing their primary duty of producing sensible legislation. Why do we continue to elect legislators who make it their standard practice to avoid taking responsibility to produce sensible legislation?

I was proud to support Ricker’s and the establishment they’ve brought to my neighborhood this past Sunday as part of the “Drink In” put on by the Libertarian Party. I hope that the attention that was brought to this issue will avert the impending harm that will be done to Ricker’s if the legislature refuses to act to resolve the damages they’ve created.

In response to the Statehouse shirking its responsibility, I have made up my mind to vote against state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, and state Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, in the next election. I will not reward a legislature or party that hides from responsibility and puts politics before its duty. I hope that when the time comes we will have new candidates willing to be elected to make votes for liberty and not to avoid scrutiny.