INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana State Fair attendees in August may get to do something that hasn't been allowed there for 67 years -- drink alcohol.
The House voted 75-20 on Tuesday for Senate Bill 339, legalizing the sale of alcohol at the state fairgrounds during the 17-day annual event showcasing the best of Indiana culture and agriculture.
According to state Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, the booze ban was enacted in 1946 after the fair ran out of paper cups for beer and started selling bottles directly to patrons. A state legislator, dismayed by the broken glass on the fairgrounds, won passage of a law banning alcohol sales during the fair.
Alcohol is sold during most other events held at the Indianapolis fair site, just not the State Fair.
Fair officials plan to showcase Indiana-made beer and wine at the fair if Republican Gov. Mike Pence signs the proposal into law. It passed the Senate 33-13 on Jan. 30.
Other items of note advancing in the Republican-controlled General Assembly on Tuesday included:
Religious Discrimination -- A controversial plan permitting religious entities that receive state contracts to discriminate in hiring based on religion was deleted from Senate Bill 367, one day after the House Ways and Means Committee added it to the measure. The legislation also directs the $4 million a year saved by fixing a Lake County tax loophole to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority for South Shore Line expansion to Dyer.
Abortion -- The House Public Policy Committee modified Senate Bill 292 to require the State Department of Health keep confidential most data it would be required to collect on Indiana doctors who share their hospital admitting privileges with doctors who perform abortions. Abortion-rights supporters said disclosure of the name and address of a clinic's "backup doctor" could lead to harassment by anti-abortion activists.
Teacher choice -- The House Education Committee scuttled a key component of Senate Bill 284, Pence's plan to pay top-rated public school teachers a bonus to work in low-performing charter schools. It was rewritten for lawmakers to study that idea over the summer.
Hemp -- Senate Bill 357 authorizing farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes, provided the federal government gives permission, was approved by the House Agriculture Committee and now goes before the full House.