[r63] Messmer Report: Safety first, but still allowing Indiana's entertainment industries to flourish

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, June 17, 2011

Over the years, the General Assembly has passed many laws that affect how alcohol and tobacco are used and sold and how gambling is run in Indiana. This year was no different. There were several pieces of legislation that will help improve sales for beer and wine makers in Indiana, keep children from buying tobacco products and help strengthen gambling laws in Indiana.

We have a large number of breweries and wineries across Indiana. Many of them sell their products all over the United States and some even internationally. We were able to increase the number of days that farm wineries are able to sell their products at a trade show or exposition from 30 to 45 days, with the approval of the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. The legislation will also now allow a direct wine seller who creates and bottles the wine themselves to ship directly to consumers in Indiana.

A second similar piece of legislation will allow those with a permit to sell beer and wine for carryout at the City Market in Indianapolis if they bottled it themselves. There will be certain establishments that are excluded from this, but it will be a great boost to business for many Indiana brewers.

Often a new tobacco product will come on the market that is not specifically covered under the laws that make it illegal for minors to purchase or consume tobacco products. It was brought to our attention that a dissolvable tobacco product is now being sold and that some younger children mistake them for candy.

These dissolvable tobacco products are now included in the laws that protect minors and makes it illegal to sell these products to people under 18, or for those under 18 to purchase the products. Our children's health is always a top priority and we want to keep the harmful effects that these products may have away from them.

We also have a number of casino boats and horse racing establishments in Indiana. The Horse Racing Commission issues many permits every year at different racetracks. Legislation that passed this year will allow an individual to hold a permit at more than one racetrack in Indiana if the commission approves it.

With a proper license, Indiana casino boats may now be permanently moored without navigation or propulsion equipment. These riverboat casinos will also now be allowed to hold card tournaments in their hotels or other facilities owned by the operating agent. Previously, they were only allowed to hold tournaments physically on the boat.

 Included in this legislation are rules that allow riverboat and racetrack casinos to be compensated when they advertise alcohol by brand name. They will also be able to more easily provide complimentary alcoholic beverages to people that attend certain events at their casino.

These casinos are a large source of revenue and entertainment for Hoosiers and we want to ensure that they have the tools they need to run a successful business.

Our main goals in the General Assembly when we place regulations on the alcohol, tobacco and gaming industries in Indiana are to make sure that people enjoy them responsibly and that our children do not come in to harm's way.

It is our goal to help Hoosiers build flourishing businesses that will create jobs and boost the Indiana economy. I look forward to the benefits these bills will produce for Hoosier employers and those that enjoy their products and services.

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Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)