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House Approves Sell Of Alcoholic Beverages At State Parks
Updated February 4, 2016 7:36 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana state parks would be able to bypass local liquor authorities and allow on-site vendors to serve alcohol despite objections from local residents under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

The House voted 58-38 Tuesday to require the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue the permits requested by the Department of Natural Resources.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, proposal allows the state Alcohol Commission to directly grant liquor licenses to state parks for "economic development

Lawmakers may allow the Department of Natural Resources to secure liquor licenses for all 32 parks and reservoirs, bypassing county alcohol boards. If the measure succeeds, the proposal could fast-track plans to expand alcohol sales on state properties where booze has traditionally been banned.

Parks officials, who back the bill, say it allows them to respond more quickly to a growing demand from park visitors to imbibe. Also, their venues could compete with those where alcohol is currently served.

The measure does not allow for carry-out alcohol to be sold, for example, in camp stores. Nor does it lift the general prohibition on park users from bringing their own alcohol to consume.

Dan Bortner, director of the state park inns, says the bill simply expands upon what the state has already started in securing liquor licenses for seven inns within the last few years. Those licenses are currently used for private events at the inns, such as wedding receptions.

Bortner says he doesn't envision that but rather sees more private events where alcohol is served.
He does concede that the Department of Natural Resources has already started talking about putting alcohol on menus at its inns as soon as this summer, to test demand.

This measure allows the state to seek liquor licenses for another 25 state park properties. It would allow for beer, wine, and liquor sales by the glass at all park properties.

Supporters say the measure would be instrumental in helping state parks draw more visitors.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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