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Lawmakers advance alcohol bills for Indy 500, suburban counties

February 2, 2016

The Indiana House passed legislation Tuesday that would provide more alcohol permits for Hamilton and Boone counties, while the Senate passed a bill to let the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sell carry-out bottles of commemorative booze.

Both bills need additional action to become law.

The Senate voted 45-5 to send Senate Bill 294 to the House for consideration. It makes an exception to the state’s ban on Sunday alcohol sales so that those who attend the next Indy 500 can purchase and leave with a keepsake bottle celebrating the 100th running of the race.

“The Indianapolis 500 is the most popular race in the world,” the bill’s author, Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, said in a written statement. “Allowing IMS to design and sell a commemorative bottle celebrating the 100th running is something we can do for the fans as part of this historic event.”

Meanwhile, the House voted 76-18 to send House Bill 1118 to the Senate for consideration. The bill authored by Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, would authorize 10 new three-way alcohol permits (which allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor) in Hamilton County and up to 10 new three-way or two-way (beer and wine only) or one-way (beer or wine) licenses in Boone County.

Local officials say the permits are needed now to accommodate development that's been stymied under a state system that allocates permits based on population.

Most municipalities in those counties have hit their permit limits, which are based on U.S. Census Bureau figures that are updated only every 10 years. Cities in the northern suburbs have experienced rapid growth since the last count.

When a community hits its cap, the only way a restaurant or bar can obtain a permit is to purchase an existing one from a current permit holder. Privately sold alcohol permits can cost $25,000 to $90,000. The state typically charges $1,000, although the proposed permits would cost $20,000 each.

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