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What is it with many state legislatures passing bills best described as a solution looking for a problem?

The Indiana legislature has two such bills under consideration right now. Wine lovers and those who believe in free enterprise need to react now. It’s just not looking for a problem but these two bills will cause substantial harm to several successful Indiana businesses.

So, this requires a short explanation. Senate Bill 358 and House Bill 1496 would essentially require specialty or gourmet food and wine stores to have 51 percent of their annual sales attributed to food. That change in the law would cause several stores to close almost immediately.

Grapevine Cottage of Zionsville, Tasteful Times in Fishers, and Broad Ripple’s Cork & Cracker would face immediate closure or bankruptcy. The Senate reported the bill out of committee with a House committee scheduled to take it up Monday morning.

The chairman of the Public Policy Committee due to hear the bill is Rep. Ben Smaltz (h52@iga.in.gov). Write him immediately to stop this bill that’s bad for small business. It’s also a good idea to write your own local representative. Then, copy your email to Senate President Pro Tem David Long at senator.long@iga.in.gov  and House Speaker Brian Bosma at h88@iga.in.gov

A brief bit of back ground is essential. The discussion started when state officials learned that Ricker’s gas stations found a legal way around the law to open a small “restaurant” in their stores in order to sell cold beer.

Pause for a second to understand and recall Indiana has some of the most restrictive laws regarding alcohol sales in the nation. Our legislators were upset someone found their way around the law. They were outraged with the State Alcoholic Beverage Commission for issuing the licenses. Interestingly, Gov. Eric Holcomb defended the agency for following the letter of the law.

And now the real crux of the issue for those who don’t keep up on such things – it’s about lobbying and candidate cash. The package liquor lobby and wine/beer distribution lobby own our state legislators. They get their way on every major issue. The lobby restricting alcohol laws has prevented Sunday sales, direct wine shipment, and continue to protect decades old ‘blue laws.”

Any reasonable Hoosier must guess reasonable heads will prevail and legislators will fix this terrible bill before legislating wrath against Rickers.

It’s all so silly but all paid for by those protecting their greed – legislators and the anti-free market distributors and package liquor store owners.

Write your reps today – not tomorrow. If you don’t give a hoot about beer or wine sales that’s fine. Write your representatives to protect these good small businesses.

I always through the GOP stood for the small businessman? Perhaps not when a big business man is filling their pockets.