The choice of former state Sen. Beverly Gard to lead a commission on overhauling Indiana’s alcohol code is drawing praise from at least one side of a heated debate: the gas station and convenience store lobby.
The two-year study committee is tasked with finding ways to modernize Indiana’s complex rules for the sale of beer, wine and liquor. Legislative leaders want the panel to be free of any ties to the alcohol industry.
Scot Imus represents the state’s gas stations and convenience stores. He says they’re pleased Gard didn’t work directly on alcohol-related bills during her 24 years in the state Senate. And he says she knows how to run a hearing.
“I think it was important to have somebody with legislative experience, because they also know the challenges in the general assembly,” Imus says.
Imus hopes the committee’s other appointees will represent the business sector, and will devise what he calls “common-sense changes” to outdated laws.
“How do we sell alcohol that both addresses what the state and retail communities look like today, and not in the 1930s," Imus says, "and do so responsibly?”
The committee could begin making recommendations to the legislature as early as this year.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which lobbies for liquor and package stores, says they look forward to Gard’s leadership of “a productive discussion.”