Talks to Heat Up on 'Shiny Object' of Legislative Session

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Brian Howey is the publisher of Howey Politics Indiana. Brian Howey is the publisher of Howey Politics Indiana.

One of the most talked-about issues of the 2018 General Assembly is expected to be discussed Wednesday at the Statehouse. Bills focusing on Sunday carryout alcohol sales and cold beer sales are on the table in both the Indiana House and Senate. In recent years, the General Assembly has continued to move closer than ever on approving proposals to allow for Sunday sales, but bills have come up short. Longtime opponents of changing the laws, the Indiana Retail Council and the Indiana Beverage Retailers Association, announced in November they would each support Sunday sales, but would not favor expanded cold beer sales.

During an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Howey Politics Indiana Publisher Brian Howey called the ongoing alcohol debate "the shiny object" of the current legislative session. Sunday sales, he believes, stand "a pretty decent chance" of gaining legislative approval. However, "the cold beer, that's the one that I think is going to get stalled. Probably in the Senate. I've talked to Senator (Andy) Zay (R-17), for instance, this summer. He didn't think there was a lot of support for that, so that may be the thing that gets left behind there," Howey said.

The House Public Policy Committee will hear House Bill 1051 Wednesday, which concerns Sunday carryout alcohol sales from noon until 8 p.m. at licensed package liquor, grocery, convenience and drug stores and restaurants. The Alcohol Code Revision Commission, which met before the session and recommended Sunday sales, but not expanded cold beer sales, wrote the draft version of the legislation.

Senate Bill 1, which was also crafted from the Alcohol Code Revision Commission, is on the Senate Committee on Public Policy's schedule for a hearing Wednesday. Network Indiana/WIBC Statehouse Bureau Chief Eric Berman reports it's unclear whether SB 1 will receive a vote Wednesday afternoon from the committee.

Senate Bill 26, which deals with expanded cold beer sales, is expected to be discussed January 17 by the Senate Committee on Public Policy. It would allow grocery stores, convenience stores or drug stores already selling beer to sell it at any temperature. Senate Bill 273 also deals with cold beer sales and it includes additional provisions for the clerk, the store's permit fees and provisions involving penalties for violations.

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