LAFAYETTE – As Ron Alting drove to a favorite beach in Florida, on vacation about the time his name was drawn as part of a 17-member legislative panel asked to come up with ways to unknot Indiana’s antiquated tangle of retail alcohol laws, the Republican state senator from Lafayette made his first prediction.
The General Assembly would vote on Sunday sales during the 2018 session.
Low-hanging fruit, he called it.
“I’ll carry that bill,” Alting said. “As long as we can come to some consensus. And I think we will.”
It wasn’t much of a surprise to see Alting’s name pop up on the Alcohol Code Revision Commission, a two-year study group mandated this spring by the legislature. Alting is chairman of the Senate Public Policy Committee, where alcohol-related bills are heard. That means Alting holds considerable sway over whether perennial bills for Sunday sales or cold beer in grocery stores live or die. That also means Alting has been the target of critics when the General Assembly can’t seem to crack open what seem like simple changes.
“You say simple,” Alting said. “Yeah, but you should see what’s happening here.”
In Florida, news was still falling out about Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill that would have torn down the state’s so-called “liquor wall,” which requires hard liquor to be sold in separate buildings from most retail items. The upshot: Despite calls for customer convenience, Scott held out n the name of protecting small businesses built around a relic of post-Prohibition-era lawmaking.
“See, it’s not just Indiana,” Alting said.
As for the Alcohol Code Revision Commission, it is just Indiana. Here’s a conversation with Alting about how he sees that playing out.