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May 23, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Opinions from other newspapers for May 23

Indiana’s peculiar liquor laws may drive you to drink

 

So a motorist in Indiana can pull up outside a package liquor store, plunk down a few bucks for a six-pack of cold beer, hop back into the car and speed off for home — or farther down the highway.

But that same motorist isn’t permitted under Indiana law to walk into the grocery store next door or a convenience store across the street to purchase cold beer.

Why?

Officially, it’s supposed to be about deterring potential drunk drivers and attempting to ensure that minors can’t obtain alcohol illegally.

In reality, it’s all about protecting a well-connected special interest — the package liquor store lobby, which has built strong financial and personal ties with key members of the Indiana General Assembly.

It’s the same reason you can’t buy beer (cold or otherwise), liquor or even cooking wine at a retail outlet today, or any other Sunday.

You can’t because package liquor store owners fear the competition, and they have the attention (and the campaign finance account numbers) of your elected representatives in state government.

During this year’s legislative session, Rep. Bill Davis, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee, refused to allow a committee vote on a bill that would have allowed Sunday alcohol sales at grocery stores and other retail shops. As The Star’s Matt Tully documented, Davis received more than 80 campaign contributions ahead of the last election from companies and lobbyists linked to the sale and distribution of alcohol. Many of those donations came from the owners of liquor stores who have consistently fought Sunday sales.

Why the opposition to cold beer in the grocery aisle or a Sunday sale on bottles of wine? Liquor store owners are quite clear — they want to keep out the competition. “Allowing Sunday sales would be a slow death,” Raymond Cox, owner of Elite Beverages, told The Star’s Chris Sikich and Kristine Guerra. “Allowing cold beer would put us out of business overnight.”

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