March 29, 2017

Cold Beer Sales Controversy Erupts In Statehouse Committees

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Convenience store CEO Jay Ricker testifies in a House committee. - Brandon Smith/IPB

Convenience store CEO Jay Ricker testifies in a House committee.

Brandon Smith/IPB

A debate erupted in two committees over Indiana’s cold beer sales law after a convenience store’s recent use of a legal loophole drew the ire of liquor stores and legislative leaders.

Two Ricker’s convenience stores qualified to sell cold beer after they started selling made-to-order food and added seating. Indiana law only allows liquor stores and restaurants to sell cold beer for carryout.

House and Senate lawmakers filed amendments in committee to halt Rickers’ cold beer sales.

But convenience store lobbyist Scot Imus says the amendments could impact permits at movie theaters, golf courses, bowling alleys, and spas.

“And why are we stifling? Quite frankly, because 600 liquor store owners across Indiana [don't] like evolution in businesses,” Imus says.

But Big Red Liquors lobbyist Matt Bell says the amendments fix what he calls an “error.” He says a business’s primary function is supposed to be considered when approving liquor permits.

“I do not believe that, with a straight face, you can say that a gas station’s main function of business is a burrito counter in the back with 20 permanent seats.”

The Senate committee approved its amendment; the House committee is expected to vote next week.

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