Lawmakers consider changes to alcohol laws

The General Assembly plans to consider changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws this session, including proposals that would allow
microbreweries to sell takeout beer on Sundays and permit alcohol sales during voting hours on Election Day.

But
sweeping changes aren’t likely to be approved. A summer study committee opposed changes that would allow Sunday carryout sales
of alcohol from liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores or let venues besides liquor stores and certain bars
sell takeout cold beer. Key House and Senate committee chairmen say they’ll support those recommendations.

The
study committee also voted against allowing microbreweries — smaller establishments that have limits on how much beer
they can make each year — to sell their beer for takeout on Sundays.

But Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette,
chairman of the Senate Public Policy Committee, has filed a bill that would allow such sales. He plans to give it a hearing
before his panel.

Alting noted that farm wineries in Indiana are allowed to sell their products for takeout on
Sundays and said microbreweries should have the same privilege.

"It’s a tourism issue and it’s a specialty
item and it’s a true art," Alting said.

The Brewers of Indiana Guild, which represents the state’s 31 microbreweries,
has lobbied for the change.

Ted Miller, president of the Guild and owner of the Brugge Brasserie brewery pub in
Indianapolis, said microbreweries are tourism destinations and Saturdays and Sundays are top days for visitors. He has a microbrewery
in Terre Haute that produces his brands of beer but says Sunday tours are limited because people can’t buy the beer for takeout
that day.

"We sure as heck can’t have a tour of our brewery (on Sundays) and not be able to sell our product,"
he said.

Alting’s bill would limit the Sunday carryout sales from microbreweries to about three cases of beer per
transaction.

Alting said he isn’t sure the microbrewery bill will make it out of his committee.

Some
lawmakers worry that the bill could be amended to include Sunday carryout sales from other venues or to expand takeout cold
beer sales to places other than liquor stores and bars with certain permits. Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, has filed
a bill that would allow those changes.

Alting said he will not give Boots’ bill a hearing, and he vowed to kill
the microbrewery bill if it is amended with such changes.

Even if it clears the Senate, the bill’s House chances
are iffy. It likely would be assigned to the House Public Policy Committee, whose chairman, Democratic Rep. Trent Van Haaften
of Mount Vernon, has expressed concerns that the bill could become a magnet for broader changes on Sunday carryout sales.

Van Haaften said he’ll see what the Senate does and wouldn’t say whether he would hear the bill.

Van Haaften
and Alting both support allowing alcohol sales during Election Day voting hours, saying the current law prohibiting sales
until polls close at 6 p.m. no longer makes sense. The alcohol study committee voted unanimously in favor of that proposal.

The two committee chairmen also support a proposal to change the hours that alcohol can be sold at bars and restaurants
on Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. the following day. The hours under current law are 10 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Alting
said the change would make Sunday sale hours uniform with the other six days of the week.

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