Alcohol Commission Wants Local Communities To Vote For Increased Permits

Oct 1, 2018

The state commission responsible for examining Indiana’s alcohol laws says local communities should get to decide whether to add more alcohol permits to their area.

That’s part of the final recommendations of the two-year study commission.

State law restricts how many alcohol permits are allowed in each community. Currently, if a city wants more, the General Assembly has to pass legislation specific to each area. The Alcohol Code Revision Commission unanimously recommends what Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) sees as a better approach – a ballot referendum in any community that wants to increase its quota.

“It’s an absolute affirmation," Smaltz says. "If you want it, there’s consequences – but you said you wanted it.”

Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) says those referenda should go both ways.

“If you’re giving someone the opportunity to expand, I think you’re going to be hard-pressed to say 'but you can’t put a local question out to reduce,'” Lehman says.

The commission also recommends the state limit how long someone can hold a new permit without using it. The currently cap is about seven years; the commission’s unanimous recommendation would be to lower that to three years.