Bill Fulfills Package Liquor "Wish List"

Would effectively block Ind. c-store beer, wine sales

INDIANAPOLIS -- Legislation will be considered next week by the Indiana House Public Policy & Veteran's Affairs Committee that would essentially prohibit Indiana convenience stores from selling beer or wine, according to the most recent Insider Report by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (IPCA)

The bill, HB 1250, introduced by State Representative Luke Messer (R), would require grocery store permits be given to only those businesses that are identified as supermarkets, warehouse clubs or supercenters as assigned [image-nocss] through the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), said the report.

The bill also would require that grocery stores carry certain products and reach minimum annual sales of at least $250,000 on products, excluding tobacco, soft drinks, candy and numerous other products commonly found inside c-stores, the report added.

Currently, c-stores in Indiana receive beer/wine permits under the classification of a grocery store, but such permits are limited as they forbid the sale of cold beer. While the bill would block new applications by c-stores, it would seemingly "grandfather" existing permit holders; however, the legislation also contains other provisions that would make the sale of beer/wine impractical for current permit holders.

Beer/wine/liquor retailers would be required to establish in their store a restricted area that is away from nonalcoholic merchandise. Yet, the bill allows persons under 21 to enter these areas as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Finally, the bill requires all employees who sell alcoholic beverages to obtain a license from the ATC.

The bill, which the report said is nearly identical to a "wish list" developed by the package liquor store industry, is scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Thursday.

The IPCA said it has activated its grassroots network and is asking members with locations in the districts of legislators who serve on the committee to register their strong opposition to HB 1250.

"Indiana lawmakers ought to reject this special-interest legislation that only seeks to entrench the monopoly of the liquor store industry. Certainly, such anti-growth, anti-small business legislation is not what one would expect the legislature to seriously consider given the state's fragile economic condition," said Scot Imus, IPCA executive director.