INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier legislative leaders agreed Thursday to begin the process of deciding whether it's time to replace Indiana's unique restrictions on where different types of alcohol can be sold, on what days and at what temperatures.
A 17-member Alcohol Code Revision Commission will spend the next two years thoroughly studying Indiana's alcohol laws, with an initial focus on alcohol retailing.
The commission, composed of eight state lawmakers and nine non-lobbyist citizen members, including the chairman, is required to recommend changes for the General Assembly to consider adopting during its 2018 and 2019 meetings.
"If one thing was highlighted during the session, it was just how unworkable, unpredictable and, in some cases, unreasonable our arcane alcoholic beverage laws are in Indiana — many of them dating back to Prohibition with very little logical changes to them," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.
Indiana is the only state in the country that prohibits all retail sales of alcohol on Sundays, while still allowing bars and restaurants to sell booze. It also is the only state that gives liquor stores the exclusive right to sell cold beer for at-home consumption.
Other topics set for summer study by Hoosier lawmakers include two top priorities for Northwest Indiana legislators.
As recommended by state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, the Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation will examine how to end mandatory vehicle emissions testing in Lake and Porter counties, without imperiling the state's clean air standards.
Meanwhile, the fiscal policy committee is taking up a suggestion by state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Merrillville, to determine how many school districts are in similar financial straits as the Gary Community School Corp., which is set to be led by a state-appointed emergency manager.
Not making the cut was a proposed study of a voluntary paid family leave program, championed by state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, that was endorsed by both the Senate and House earlier this year.
Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said with 133 study topics suggested by Hoosier lawmakers a lot of whittling was required to get the list down to a manageable 51 issues.
John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, condemned the decision to reject a review of how Indiana could adopt paid family leave for new parents or individuals caring for a sick relative.
"Paid family leave is good for families, it's good for businesses, but evidently, it's too forward-thinking for Indiana Republicans," Zody said.