Indiana lawmakers consider changes to alcohol laws

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Microbreweries could sell beer for takeout on Sundays under a bill endorsed by a Senate committee Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a House committee held hearings on bills that would allow alcohol sales during voting hours on Election Day and extend the hours that restaurants and bars open on Sundays can sell alcohol on premises from 12:30 a.m. Monday to 3 a.m. Nobody spoke in opposition to the bills, but no votes were taken on them.

A summer study committee did not recommend that microbreweries, which have limits on how much beer they can make each year, be allowed to sell their beer for takeout on Sundays.

But Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette, chairman of the Senate Public Policy Committee, filed a bill that would allow such sales, and it passed his panel 9-2 on Wednesday and moved to the full Senate.

Supporters noted farm wineries in Indiana are allowed to sell their products for takeout on Sundays and said microbreweries should have the same privilege.

“It’s really an issue about tourism and equalizing the playing field between farm wineries and microbreweries,” said Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington. There are 32 microbreweries in Indiana, according to the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

Alting’s bill would limit the amount of Sunday carryout sales from microbreweries to about three cases per transaction.

Even if the bill clears the Senate, its chances of passing the House aren’t good.

Some lawmakers worry the bill could be amended to include Sunday carryout sales from other venues or to expand takeout cold beer sales to places other than liquor stores and certain bars. Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, has filed a bill that would allow those changes.

Alting said he will not give Boots’ bill a hearing, and he vowed to kill the microbrewery bill if it is amended with such changes.

But Democratic Rep. Trent Van Haaften, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee, has still expressed concerns that Alting’s bill could become a catalyst for more sweeping changes in alcohol sales. Alting’s bill likely would be assigned to Van Haaften’s committee if it passed the Senate.

Nobody testified against the Election Day sales bill in Van Haaften’s committee or against extending the hours that restaurants and bars can sell alcohol into the early hours of Mondays.

Supporters of both bills said the laws were antiquated and cut into sales and tax revenue.