New poll shows vast majority of Hoosiers want Indiana’s alcohol laws revamped

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INDIANAPOLIS – Perhaps not the most shocking news you’ll ever read, but a new study out Monday shows a vast majority of Hoosiers support cold beer sales at convenience, drug and grocery stores.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association commissioned the survey, which was conducted by Fabrizio Lee & Associates.

The poll found 71 percent support the expanded cold beer sales, while 65 percent of Hoosiers support carry out sale of alcohol on Sundays.

“So the challenge for us – how to harness this overwhelming public support,” Scot Imus said, executive director of IPCA.

The group also launched a new campaign and website, coined Chill Indiana, ahead of a highly-anticipated summer study committee that could recommend dramatic changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws.

"Aside from poking fun at our laughable laws, the website will be a place for supporters to get the facts about cold beer and Sunday sales,” Imus said at an event at the Statehouse.

But critics aren’t laughing.

“Deregulation is not the answer to this problem,” John Sinder said, vice chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers.  “As we’ve seen across the state, alcoholism and other types of addictions have been broiled this state into real trouble.”

The new committee, whose members have yet to be appointed, will consist of lawmakers, former members of the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and excise police.

Lawmakers say it will not include lobbyists or anyone with ties to the alcohol industry.

“Our goal is to appoint knowledgeable individuals free of ownership connections to the many alcohol industry participants and their lobbyists,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said in a statement Monday. “Our leadership team is committed to addressing these issues and I look forward to the work ahead."

Jay Ricker, chairman of Ricker’s convenience stores, attended Monday’s event. Earlier in the year, lawmakers quickly squashed his move which allowed him to sell cold beer at two of his stores, a move some coined a ‘loophole.’

“I didn’t really know this was going to turn into quite the issue,” Ricker said Monday.

While lobbyists won’t be part of the commission itself, all sides have said they are privately planning new campaign roll-outs to magnify their message, not only to lawmakers but the public.

“I think they ought to pick the low-hanging fruit,” Imus said. “And I think that’s what the people want.”

Republicans have said this will be a two-year effort, as the committee works its way through an old and complicated law with numerous potential consequences.

“I can tell you the status quo works,” Sinder said. “Our alcohol beverage laws are really not that archaic.”

According to the poll, Gov. Eric Holcomb has a 54 percent approval rating while the state legislature’s approval rating sits at 49 percent.

Acording to Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, the poll was conducted May 8-11 and surveyed 600 registered voters via landline and cell phone. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

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