House OKs changes to liquor permitting for state parks

Indiana state parks would be able to bypass local liquor authorities and allow on-site vendors to serve alcohol despite objections from local residents under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

The House voted 58-38 Tuesday to require the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue the permits requested by the Department of Natural Resources.

That would allow Valparaiso businessman Chuck Williams of Pavilion Partners to bypass a state agency that denied him a liquor permit for a controversial project overhauling a beach pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park.

The project prompted some to question the motives behind the bill, which Williams hired a lobbyist to push.

But supporters say the measure would be instrumental in helping other state parks draw more visitors.

The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.

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