OTHER OPINION: Indiana plays liquor favorites


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.

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.

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.

Not surprisingly, the unequal treatment under the law has now prompted a lawsuit by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, which is seeking permission to sell customers cold beer just like the liquor store down the block.

Lawmakers need to get out of the business of playing one segment of the alcohol industry against another. The ban on Sunday retail sales is long outdated. And the prohibition on cold beer sales finally should be put on ice.

Indianapolis Star