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Indiana Alcohol Laws - David vs. Goliath

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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Indiana lawmakers are once again looking at the state’s laws on alcohol sales. As you watch the public debate, understand this is a David vs. Goliath match. In this case, David has been winning, but Goliath isn’t giving up. Many want to couch the debate in terms of public convenience.


On this part of the issue, Goliath (the large retail operations) is correct. In Indiana, you cannot buy beer and liquor products on Sunday in a retail store. On any other day, you can only buy cold beer at a package liquor store. But if Goliath gets his way, David (the owners of package liquor stores) will see a large percentage of its operations go out of business.


It is true that the public is not able to buy all the alcohol products they want on a Sunday and cannot buy cold beer anywhere but a liquor store. Package liquor stores must close on Sundays, pursuant to state law, and are limited in what products they can sell in addition to alcohol related items. The fact is, many businesses get favorable treatment under state laws.  In this instance, the public gets less access to a retail product. But the law allows package liquor store owners, mostly small business people, to remain in business.


The package liquor store owners have many allies in the Indiana General Assembly. For that reason, the laws have not changed in many years, even after a full court press on state legislators by the large retailers. What is more important, giving consumers more access to alcoholic beverages or keeping small business owners of liquor stores in business?


So far, Indiana lawmakers have sided with David. But Goliath continues to press his case. Personally, I’m willing to continue the restrictions on alcohol sales in current law if it keeps a number of small business owners from going under. Indiana has always restricted alcohol in some way. I can live with the current alcohol sales laws.


(Posted first on January 4, 2015, on Indiana Forefront by contributor Larry Lannan.)

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