Monday, April 03, 2017

You keep using that word...

Indiana's liquor laws are pretty good. You can go to the grocery store or the Walgreen's and grab a bottle of Jack Daniels off the shelf with less drama than it takes to buy Sudafed, for which you must carry a token to the pharmacist and sign a log and stuff because meth.

About the only notable laws are the prohibition on the sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption on Sundays (with the exception of beer purchased at the craft brewery) and the somewhat unusual prohibition of the sale of cold beer at grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores. You can sell chilled white wine in these places, but cold malt beverages are right out. Like any time there's a weird law in Indiana, I blame John Dillinger.

There's a good run-up to repealing this law pretty much every legislative session these days, but the state liquor store association, who has the monopoly on cold beer sales, defends their iron rice bowl tenaciously with lobbying and campaign contributions.

Enter a couple convenience stores of the local chain, Ricker's.

Like a lot of convenience stores, they have a little restaurant area with a couple tables for seating. They serve made-to-order food, they're a restaurant, ergo...cold beer sales were allowed in these Ricker's.

"Oh, no, no, no!" say state legislators, with the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers' collective hand up their poopers, opening and closing their mouths. (IABR will drink cold beer while the Senators say this. It's good ventriloquism.)

So there's a hasty scramble at the statehouse to close this loophole, with "loophole" meaning "someone doing something perfectly legal that I don't like."

Thing is, the proposed patch can't just stop Ricker's, because that would be a bill of attainder and un-American. Instead, they figure the proper American way to stifle this business competition would be to reclassify a "restaurant" for purposes of alcoholic beverage sales as someplace that derives at least eighty percent of its revenue from food and beverage sales. So, if it passes, good bye to alcohol sales in movie theaters, bowling alleys, golf course clubhouses...

Laws and sausages.