Indiana State Sen. Ron Alting, the Lafayette lawmaker who sponsored the controversial vaping law that essentially put a single private security firm—located in his town and run by his high school classmate—in charge of selecting winners and losers in the e-liquid manufacturing industry, is now admitting the law created an unfair playing field.
At last week's meeting of the Public Policy Study Committee, Alting said the law did create a monopoly and cause harm to small businesses. The law and the circumstances of its passages are now being probed by the FBI.
"It was no one’s intention for that vape bill, which over 100 people voted for in the General Assembly, to form a monopoly and put other businesses out of businesses,” Alting said. "But it did. … The consequences were severe for that little guy that owned that vape shop.”
Alting vowed to “correct it” when the General Assembly returned in January.
Vape shop owners, as well as representatives from other e-liquid manufacturers, were present at the Legislature over the past two years, saying that the regulatory scheme would harm several small businesses who manufactured the "juice" that goes in e-cigarettes. But several lawmakers dismissed their comments, saying the businesses were trying to get out of basic safety regulations.
Alting's comments came at the end of a 10-minute monologue he gave at the close of a Sept. 27 committee meeting.
He said he has “great passion” for the issues discussed by the committee and said several times that the issues discussed by the Public Policy Study Committee are among the most important the Legislature discusses.
Alting also said he was proud that “there has never been a scandal, at least [in] the 20 years I’ve been [dealing with legislation affecting the] alcohol business.”
“This is an industry that has some thugs in it, if you haven’t known that, as well as the gaming industry,” Alting said. “Indiana, we haven’t experienced that. That is credit to the General Assembly.”
IBJ previously reported that half of the e-liquid manufacturing firms first approved by the state after the law went into effect had ties to the casino industry.