(STATEHOUSE) Jan. 29, 2007 - The Indiana House of Representatives on Tuesday took steps to update Indiana's alcohol regulations by passing House Bill 1118, co-authored by Rep. Matt Bell (R-Avilla).
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.
Grocery stores that choose to sell liquor would also need to have it in a clearly separated area that prohibits the presence of minors unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. This would help limit minors' access to alcohol by ensuring it is not near doors and easily accessible.
"This is a move towards consistency, and a strong step towards sending the right message to young people," said Rep. Bell. "No one on any side of this debate wants youth to be exposed to alcohol. These are weighty issues that currently lack consistency, and this bill clarifies many irregularities.
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 also addresses alcohol permits. Many communities are already at quota for local restaurant licenses. Currently, the number of local permits allowed is only evaluated every 10 years. This has inhibited development in some communities because even if the population had grown to allow for new permits, new restaurants could not get a permit until the new census. Rep. Bell authored an amendment to allow city councils the ability to pass a resolution to grant up to five local licenses in economic development areas. This will give local people the ability to make their own decisions since they know what is best for their community.
The bill will now move to the Senate for further debate.