Legislative Update: Indiana Considers Sunday Sales; Georgia DOR to Discuss Digital Transactions

Sunday Alcohol Sales Under Discussion in Indiana

Indiana drinkers may soon be able to purchase alcohol at grocery, convenience and liquor stores on Sundays, the Indianapolis Star reported this week.

The Alcohol Code Revision Commission voted in favor of a measure to allow Sunday alcohol sales from noon until 8 p.m., but the panel postponed a recommendation on expanding off-premise sales of cold beer, the outlet reported.

Just days before the vote, an alliance was formed between the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council in support of Sunday alcohol sales. But those two groups also agreed to band together against expanded cold beer sales.

The latest news comes weeks after the Indianapolis Star published an investigation into the state of Indiana’s powerful liquor store lobby.

“It’s a special recipe of lifelong ties with lawmakers, brass-knuckle retail tactics against industry critics, a potentially improper channel of political money and a tactical advantage in legislative fights,” the outlet reported. “Wins aren’t necessary; it’s good enough to simply fight to a draw.”

The Star found that liquor stores contributed at least $850,000 to political campaigns from 2011 to 2016. And although that figure was less than the combined donations from convenience stores (more than $600,000) as well as big box, grocery and pharmacy stores ($568,000), the liquor store lobby still yielded more influence due to its “singular focus” on preserving the “status quo.”

The majority of liquor store money — more than $90,000 since 2011 — is being spent with Sen. Ron Alting, the Indiana Statehouse’s gatekeeper for alcohol legislation, the outlet reported. However, even Alting, who has proven to be a roadblock to past reform efforts, recognizes change may be necessary; the senator is planning to introduce legislation in favor of Sunday alcohol sales during the next legislative session.

Read the full report here, including the economic consequences for one brewery owner who criticized lawmakers’ protectionist stance on liquor stores.

Georgia to Hold Hearing On Online Alcohol Sales

The Georgia Department of Revenue has scheduled a public hearing for November 17 to discuss the possibility of allowing off-premise retailers to conduct online sales of beer and wine for curbside pickup, according to WABE.

DOR commissioner Lynne Riley told WABE that consumers would have to register with stores before making online purchases, and those retailers would then have to create a system in order to track sales and verify ages. The state would prohibit prepaid sales, requiring payment upon pickup after the verification of age, according to Politically Georgia.

West Sixth Co-Founder to Lead Kentucky Democratic Party

Ben Self, co-founder of West Sixth Brewery, was elected the new chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party over the weekend, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Mr. Self’s skill set will be vital to the party’s successes in 2018 and beyond,” party spokesman Brad Bowman told the outlet. “It was unanimous amongst all committee members that Self’s leadership is what the party needs now and in the future.”

Last year, West Sixth increased sales by 6 percent to 13,330 barrels of beer, according to the Brewers Association.

Oklahoma Retailers Could Be Liable for Intoxicated Consumers

In a 5-to-4 decision last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that convenience stores may be held liable for selling beer to visibly intoxicated consumers, according to the Oklahoman.

The decision would allow lawsuits to be filed against retailers who sell alcohol to noticeably intoxicated individuals who are subsequently involved in an accident that either kills or injures themselves or others. The court’s opinion said a clerk selling alcoholic beverages “has a duty to exercise reasonable care not to sell liquor to a noticeably intoxicated person.”

Read more about the ruling here.

In other Oklahoma news, a federal court in August rejected the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma’s challenge to a recently passed constitutional amendment allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine. The law is set to go in effect in October 2018.