‘No major action’ taken on alcohol

(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

For years, members of the Indiana General Assembly have felt the frustration of talking and talking about Sunday alcohol sales and then never getting anything done. This year, it seems they’re ready to try something new: they’re not even going to talk about it.

Indiana is the last state in the union to not allow Sunday carryout sales, and this summer an interim study committee was supposed to look at that and other idiosyncrasies of the 1935 Liquor Control Act and take a comprehensive approach to replace the maze of confusion created by decades of piecemeal amendments to the act.

But the committee has apparently decided on “no major action” after a summer of hearing the same old things from the same old people. In past years, the great alcohol debate has devolved into a territorial war between the owners of package stores, who don’t want to open on Sundays, and grocery stores and other retailers, which are already open on Sundays.

The General Assembly already offends one set of retailers. And apparently it doesn’t want to take the chance of offending a second set of retailers or, even worse, somehow offending both at the same time.

Too bad. Alcohol is a commodity, and the state needs to start looking at it from the consumers’ point of view.

Here’s just one of them, Francesca Nadzam of Carmel, responding in a letter to the editor about an Indianapolis Star story on the legislative impasse: “One sentence read: ‘Lawmakers have been unable to strike the a balance between the desires of liquor stores and big-box stores such as Wal-Mart.’ Please. How about the consumers who voted for you? Many of us do weekly shopping on Sunday and just want to purchase some wine for upcoming dinners. Come on, Indiana. Get with the times. This is a ridiculously archaic law.”

Of course, alcohol isn’t exactly like other commodities. It can easily be abused, to the detriment of both individuals and the larger society. And it is something we want to do everything possible to keep out of the hands of minors. So it is proper to have more restrictive rules and regulations than we have for other goods.

But those rules should be well thought out and crafted carefully. And written with consumer in mind for a change. Let the special interests look out for themselves this time.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.