Heading into the 2014 legislative session, the argument again is being made — in a tired and worn way — that Indiana’s laws controlling the sales of alcohol are outmoded, inconvenient and circumspect.
In reality, the restrictions on selling alcohol — both through administrative permitting rules and states laws — have been whittled away for years by massive retailers, big-box chains and gas stations that want to sell alcohol with as few restrictions as possible.
Those retailers — Kroger, Rickers, Family Express, Thorntons, Meijer, Costco and Wal-Mart (just to name a few) — are not bound by current laws that apply to package stores.
Package store owners must reside in Indiana and locate their stores within city limits, hire clerks that are a minimum age of 21 in order to sell alcohol, and require their employees to hold special state permits.
Not so for a grocery store where a clerk can be under the age of 21. Why don’t these laws apply to all retailers as opposed to high school students potentially selling wine and beer to their friends from the neighborhood grocery?
Due to state’s rights, alcohol laws vary from state to state — from the times of day when sales can be made to the percentage of alcohol in spirits that can be sold. Missouri, for example, allows parents and guardians to legally provide alcohol to their children.
For a little history lesson, Indiana’s package liquor stores were created after Prohibition was repealed and put into place by the 1935 Liquor Control Act. That’s an important point. Package stores were intentionally created by lawmakers who decided that a substance like alcohol would be handled in a specific way and sold in a specific manner by a specific source — as a regulated product.
But how do consumers feel?
According to a new and bipartisan national poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP), Americans are very satisfied with their alcohol variety, access and regulation.