(STATEHOUSE) Feb. 28, 2008 - Yesterday, the Senate approved several bills co-authored by Rep. Matt Bell (R-Avilla) that will update Indiana law.
HOUSE BILL 1118: House Bill 1118 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 represents some of the most meaningful reform of Indiana's alcohol regulations in a generation," Bell said. "The State of Indiana is empowered by the U.S. Constitution to regulate the sale of alcohol, and many of the changes contained in this bill represent a collective effort to ensure that we live up to that responsibility."
The age for allowing clerks to sell alcohol would be raised to 19, preventing most high school students from selling alcohol. Clerks who sell alcohol would be required to take the same training course that restaurant servers take. 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.
"Many of the issues surrounding the sale of alcohol are complex and intricate. It seems to be a responsible to step to study these issues during the months when the General Assembly is not in session so they can be fully vetted and understood prior to making policy decisions."
HOUSE BILL 1153: This bill authorizes the sale of pull tabs, punchboards and tip boards in establishments licensed to sell alcohol. Additionally, the bill authorizes raffles and winner takes all games in bars and taverns with a limit of $300 per game.
"Last year, the Indiana General Assembly voted to allow low-stakes gaming identical to the provisions in this bill in fraternal organizations and not-for-profit organizations. This bill does not condone any new behavior; it simply establishes the venues in which low stakes entertainment games like pull tabs will be allowed. For years, patrons of bars and taverns have played games like these in bars and taverns. This bill regulates that practice and gives Hoosiers who choose to patronize bars and taverns a low-dollar entertainment option while they are there."
HOUSE BILL 1290: This bill makes it possible for individuals who received foster care before the age of 18 to stay in foster care until they are 21 if they are working, attending a vocational program or attending an educational program.
"Foster children are already burdened with unnecessary hardships, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the highest level of support and protection," said Rep. Bell. "This bill is part of my continued efforts to build a world-class child welfare system in the state of Indiana."
Almost 20 percent of foster children become homeless by the time they are 21. This legislation creates a transition period and provides young adults in need with additional support. Illinois has a similar transition period for foster children already in place, and statistics have shown this to be beneficial to the recipient in many ways, including much higher incomes.
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.