For my other gig, I was researching a bill that Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed just before the end of the legislative session that essentially killed the residential rooftop solar industry in the state. While doing so, lo and behold, I saw that this Holcomb character was also curbing beer sales too. And yes, that’s all beer, even Beer Voltron.
House Bill 1496 says it’s illegal for grocery and convenience stores in Indiana to sell cold, carryout beer unless 60 percent of their profits come from on-site consumption. That’s a pretty lofty number.
The real target of the legislation at the start was a convenience store chain, Ricker’s, that started to expand by adding a food and beverage component, which included — I hope you are sitting down — alcohol sales. Gasp! Well, shame you devils, that is against the old timey ways of Indiana — even though the owner of Ricker’s was legally granted the permits and doing everything above board.
Anyway, lawmakers acted fast to close this apparent loophole well after the people of Ricker’s invested a ton of money in renovations, training and so on. And they chose to close this loophole with this scatter shot language in House Bill 1496:
Provides that after May 14, 2017, a restaurant may not sell carryout unless at least 60% of its gross retail income from alcoholic beverage sales is derived from sales of alcoholic beverages consumed on the premises. Makes the following exceptions to the gross retail income requirements for sale of carryout: (1) Exempts retailer’s permits issued to a city market, marina, state park, golf course, hotel, resort hotel, social or fraternal club, or restaurant operated by a microbrewer.
That cut off level of income drawn from alcohol sales on-premise rules out a lot of places that could sell beer if Indiana chose to follow the example of such cosmopolitan places as Ohio and sell beer in grocery stores and gas stations. Also, side note, the act grandfathers in companies that obtained a license by Nov. 1, 2016. Guess whose license was obtained just a few weeks after that established cut-off date? Poor Ricker’s. They really fucking hate that dude.
But this might just be a pit stop on the way to broader alcohol reform in the state, according to the Indianapolis Star:
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne, both said the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission’s decision to issue a restaurant liquor license to two small burrito restaurants within Rickers went against the will of the General Assembly.
Holcomb disagreed with that sentiment and at a news conference in February said the agency followed the law. He also added that the alcohol commission would follow any new laws passed by the General Assembly.
“I sign this bill with the understanding we need to review and make common-sense changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws,” Holcomb said in a statement after signing the legislation Tuesday.