(STATEHOUSE) March 5, 2008 - Yesterday, the House concurred on several bills authored and co-authored by Rep. Matt Bell (R-Avilla) that will now move to the Governor's desk for his signature to become law.
HOUSE BILL 1118: This is a complex bill dealing with alcohol regulations. One of the main components of the bill is the definition of a grocery store. Many communities throughout the state would like to ensure that a grocery store be considered an establishment with no more than 25 percent of its sales being from alcoholic beverages.
HB 1118 would limit the number of retail establishments selling alcohol in a community by establishing more stringent quotas for retail beer and liquor dealers. The bill also insists that the state provide training to local Alcohol and Tobacco Commission boards. Stricter quotas coupled with better training should allow communities greater ability to control their own destinies regarding the number of retail permits allowed.
"This bill addresses concerns at each level of Indiana's three tier alcohol distribution system," said Rep. Bell. "As a legislator, we take our responsibility to regulate the sales of alcohol seriously. This bill represents an outstanding collective effort to uphold that responsibility."
The age for allowing clerks to sell alcohol would be raised to 19, preventing most high school students from selling alcohol. The bill would also allow minors to participate in Alcohol and Tobacco Commission compliance checks. Currently, the ATC has successfully used minors for tobacco-compliance checks but not alcohol.
In addition, the bill creates a two-year summer study committee charged to further investigate several issues regarding the sale of alcohol.
HOUSE BILL 1153: This bill authorizes the sale of pulltabs, punchboards and tipboards in establishments licensed to sell alcohol. Additionally, the bill authorizes raffles and winner-take-all games in bars and taverns with a limit of $300 per game.
"This legislation will help small business owners looking for an entertainment incentive to bring people into their corner," said Rep. Bell. "This form of low stakes entertainment will be limited to establishments for those 21 and over.
"This is not a new behavior we are condoning. Hoosiers can already use their entertainment dollars for this type of gaming at fraternal organizations and not-for-profits, putting private businesses at a disadvantage."
The bill allows pulltabs, punchboards and tipboards to only be sold in taverns for a maximum of $1. All sales would require a maximum payout of 75 percent.
HOUSE BILL 1162 allows young people to become more involved in their local and state governments. It allows the presiding officer of a city or town council to appoint someone younger than 18 to serve as a non-voting advisor to the municipal legislative body.
It would also create an advisory council to the General Assembly concerning issues of importance to youth. The Department of Education would staff the 22-member youth council; the state superintendent of public instruction would supervise.
"I have spoken with individuals who have participated in youth advisor programs, and they have all found their experiences to be invaluable," said Rep. Bell "Several of them dealt with weighty issues that have provided them with great insight into the legislative process. Local and state governments will also benefit by have views from young people."
"This bill will get more young Hoosiers involved in local and state government, creating future leaders."
This bill is a natural extension of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Councils, which is currently active in more than 40 communities across the state, including Kendallville and New Haven. Members of Kendallville Mayor Suzanne Handshoe's youth advisory council provided important advocacy and feedback on this issue.
HOUSE BILL 1171 would require emergency medical personnel to receive training on caring for people with autism.
"Currently, EMS personnel don't receive any training on how to properly care for individuals with autism, creating an uncomfortable situation for the patient and the first-responder," said Rep. Bell. "By participating in training courses, EMS personnel could better treat the patient and provide them with the special care they need."
This bill would require emergency medical services personnel to successfully complete a course of education and training on autism beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
Rep. Bell encourages constituents to contact him with questions or concerns through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling the Statehouse toll-free at 1-800-382-9841 or by writing him at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.