Bill to close cold beer loophole approved

April 21, 2017

Gov. Eric Holcomb must now decide if he will sign a bill cracking down on a legal loophole used by Ricker's convenience stores to sell cold beer after it was approved by the Indiana Legislature.

The bill sets such a high bar that Jay Ricker, who started selling carryout cold beer at two of his Ricker's convenience stores, says he will have to stop sales by April 2018.

Package liquor stores and restaurants can sell cold beer, but gas stations and convenience stores are only allowed to sell warm beer and cold wine.

Ricker worked around that law by installing seating and serving burritos, landing a restaurant classification—and the right to sell cold beer.

Under the legislation, Ricker would be able to keep his yearly permit allowing carryout sales of cold beer until it runs out. But in order to renew it, the bill mandates that 60 percent of all alcohol sales must be for on-site drinking at businesses like Ricker's that obtained a permit after November 2016.

Democratic Rep. Terri Austin said the bill makes the Legislature "look terrible" because it targets one company.

Republicans vow to take up a complete overhaul of the state's complicated alcohol laws next year.

In a statement after the vote, Ricker said that “the General Assembly again decided to ignore the will of the people and reward those who have rewarded them.”

“It is clear from the legislation passed this week that Ricker’s restaurants were specifically targeted for punitive action by legislators,” he said. “For reasons known only to them and their generous supporters, the leadership in the House and Senate struck a blow against basic Hoosier fairness.  Make no mistake, if this can happen to Ricker’s it can happen to any business, any time.”

The House approved the bill 84-13. The measure passed the Senate 43-1.



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