Sounding off about the legislative session

The statehouse is active again. The House Public Policy Committee is looking at a Sunday carry-out law, legal sawed-off shotguns, monetary help for casinos, schools not allowed bans on guns on-campus, and (yike) a repeal on handgun licensing. The sponsors says he wants to "decriminalize" the lawful carry of handguns by people without criminal records and have state law” allow those on university campuses decide how best to protect themselves.” article

635575298993958475-robertson-meganTo complicate Sunday carry-out, “political consultant” Megan Robertson was hired by the Convenience Store group to push Sunday carry-out. Then, on Christmas Eve, she ran her car into a Hardee’s and blew a .168 on the breath test. I guess she spent Christmas day waiting for an arraignment but maybe not, seeing that she’s a politico that was at the top of Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard’s 2011 election (and back in 2008, the push for Sarah Palin).

Editorial Number 1

How do these people come to power? No one elected this woman to anything but she’s a true friend of the Republican party having been paid to pass “influence” toward Indiana lawmakers. A quick scan finds her as a deputy execute director of the Marion County GOP, the northeast regional director for the Indiana GOP, the campaign manager for the now-disgraced Tony Bennett. She’s also worked on or led Indiana campaigns for Luke Messer, John McCain, Dan Coats and Greg Ballard.

Anyway, she and her one-person company, FrontRunner Strategies, has resigned from the Sunday sales lobby. Down the DWI path of that tree, Megan explained her BAC of .168  came at 1am “after drinking two beers”. Hmmmm.  Her prior arrests are for speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and operating a vehicle while her driver's license was suspended. That last in Sept, 2014. I can’t get an answer to whether her license is still suspended but she hasn’t been to court yet on that one. Maybe she just doesn’t think that the government should get all up in our faces about having a driver’s license.

Editorial Number 2

Megan’s .168 got much less talk on the football couch than the Colts’ linebacker Andrew Jackson who blew a .088 in Kentucky. He was arrested at 4:15am so he’s a later partier than Megan but he didn’t run into a restaurant and he really might not have thought he was over .08. That number is just over the limit imposed by the federal National Minimum Drinking Age Act and really does not signify real impairment. Many legitimate sources say a .005 difference in BAC is not at all a difference in actual capabilities.

I’m not a big fan of the city-sponsored Colts owned by Junkie Irsay, but Jackson seems to have gotten a raw deal in the public perception – or at least in the press.

Editorial Number 3

The Sunday sales bill might have bitten the dust on Christmas eve but that may not be a bad thing for Hoosier Breweries. The  bill has been introduced multiple times by “Hoosiers for Sunday Sales” and supported by petitions at liquor stores. The backers are a mixture of the Indiana Retail Council (grocery stores),  the Pharmacy lobby and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

John Livengood of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers isn’t completely happy about it. He thinks about 1/4 of the Indiana’s independent liquor stores will be forced out of business.

Myself, I’m not happy with it either. Convenience stores (read gas stations) sell budmillercoors, local breweries are not represented on their shelves. That will cost sales overall of Hoosier Beers just as the growth is ramping up. Grocery stores, including the Marsh and Krogers chains, now normally have a mix of Carson’s Flat 12, Fountain Square, Noble Order (nee Big Dawg), Sun King, Three Floyds, Upland and many more (often in 1-bottle lots). Thank you Monarch Beverage.

This isn’t  a rant just supporting the Sunday beer monopoly by the local breweries. Yes, they sell a lot of growlers at the breweries but their slice of the malt pie will be diminished by the sale of fizzy alco-water at gas stations. I might be the lone voice here as House Speaker Brian Bosma says “My assessment of it is that it doesn’t really change the economics for the participants in the industry much.”

In years past, Ron Alting, chair of the Public Policy Committee, has shot down Sunday carry-out. He also has put forth many other pro-local-beer laws with help of the Brewers of Indiana Guild’s lobbyist Mark Webb.

Patrick Tamm, head of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, doesn’t think the Chamber of Commerce should single out one business sector for preferential rules.

My opinion is completely and directly supporting Hoosier breweries by continuing the Sunday carry-out ban as it now stands. This is specifically to financially help the little guy over the mass-marketers (Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch, South Africa’s SABMiller and Canadian/American Molson Coors ). These are the 1st, 2nd and 7th largest breweries in the world.

Editorial Number 4

My last editorial today is an (unauthorized) reprint of a piece in Rita Kohn’s Beer Buzz column in Indianapolis’ Nuvo:

Support Indiana Brewers wants your help raising the limit of beer brewers are able to produce in Indiana. State lawmakers will soon introduce bills to the Indiana state legislature recommending the Indiana Small Brewers barrel limit be increased to 60,000 or 90,000 barrels – essential for continued growth. Bills include SB 276 authored by Senator James Merritt, SB 297 authored by Senator Ron Alting, SB 281 authored by Senator Carlin Yoder; and representative Ed Clere has authored a bill for introduction to the House of Representatives. Go to to fill out your information and automatically send your legislator an email. Patrons will also be able to fill out the form via iPad Jan, 31 at Winterfest. {now sold out}

The barrel limit to have a brewery and a restaurant (brewpub) or on-site sales or tastings has been moved up almost annually through the recent years to accommodate the two biggest Indiana breweries, Three Floyds and Upland. Now there’s also Sun King and Flat 12 looks to bounce off the current 30,000 barrel limit soon.

Why does Indiana limit the output of an agricultural business? This isn’t making MADD or any of the more rabid “conservatives” happy – they won’t even notice it.

Why does Indiana limit the output of an agricultural business? Just because alcohol is involved? This law certainly wasn’t in effect back in 1997 when the Evansville Brewing Co. was in full swing down in Evansville making Sterling, Champagne Velvet, Cook’s Drewrys, Drummond Brothers, Falls City, Lemp, Penn and Weidemanns.

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