Alcohol is big business in Indiana, as it is nationwide. As with any industry, reviewing the laws and regulations from time to time is important to make sure they are sensible.
In the Hoosier state, however, proposed changes to alcohol laws have had a tendency to wither and die in the Indiana Legislature — whether due to the influence of lobbyists or political machinations.
However, something refreshing has happened this year, which is state lawmakers agreeing to include a comprehensive review of Indiana’s alcohol laws among the various study commissions created. Of course, that didn’t happen until the Ricker’s convenience store chain found a way to sell cold beer for carryout — a legal right traditionally reserved for package liquor stores — at two locations, including one in Columbus.
The 17-member committee will have two years to study the issue and make recommendations — providing the first serious, in-depth effort to review the laws in recent memory. The committee’s work will begin sometime later this year.
Commission members — still to be named — will face a big challenge considering that multiple types of businesses have something at stake.
That’s why it is heartening to see that the commission will include lay people in addition to lawmakers, and that appointing people without ties to the alcohol industry is important. Having a commission that can deliver unbiased suggestions is vital if this commission is going to be viewed seriously. Otherwise, the process would be a waste of time.
The recommendations of the commission – whatever they may be — need to be given serious weight and consideration by state lawmakers because they will represent a serious attempt to ensure the state’s laws are fair, current, sensible and reflect consumers’ wants.
Should this process result in recommendations that then become political footballs and easily dismissed, that would be disappointing.
It’s taken long enough for state lawmakers to agree to a comprehensive review of Indiana’s alcohol laws. Hoosiers and businesses involved in the alcohol industry deserve alcohol laws they would make them say, “Cheers!”