COLUMBUS, Ind. – As Indiana Democrats and Republicans get ready to study liquor laws, another party is hoping the debate will spark change heading into 2018.
This weekend, the Libertarian Party in Bartholomew and Johnson counties will host a “drink-in” at Ricker’s Gas Station in Columbus. It’s an event organizers hope will draw attention to what’s happened to the gas company over the past couple of months.
In November, Ricker’s received a restaurant liquor license after it opened a made-to-order food section. Because of this, the gas station was able to sell cold beer carryout.
“A lot of people are like, ‘How’d they find a loophole around that? It’s a gas station, how are they selling cold beer?’” Columbus resident Dakota Kerns said.
But the excitement faded in April as Indiana lawmakers passed a bill to close the loophole. Ricker’s will be allowed to sell cold beer carryout until next year, but local Libertarian members don’t think that’s good enough.
“The state government moved the goal post on this specific business,” Bartholomew County Libertarian Party Vice Chair Clyde Myers said.
That’s why the group is hosting the event inside the store. “We’re just hoping everyone will come out and have a beer with us and show their support for freedom of choice,” Myers said.
There’s been a lot of attention on the state’s liquor laws this week — not just because of this upcoming drink-in.
On Monday, the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association released a study showing 70 percent of Hoosiers support cold beer sales, and another 65 percent want to see it sold on Sunday.
Myers said numbers like that could give his county party a 2018 platform. “We’re hoping we can make them aware that most Hoosiers support freedom of choice,” Myers said. “That they support free and fair and open competition.”
State lawmakers said they are aware, which is why they’re conducting a study. It’s expected to last a couple years.
News of the study means Myers might be having a lot more burritos and beer as he prepares to take a stand he never saw coming. “No, I did not, but I’m all for it,” Myers said. “It’s going to be a good time.”
The county Libertarian event will take place at the Columbus gas station this Sunday at 3 p.m. As for state leaders, we’re expected to find out soon when they’ll begin their two-year study looking at liquor laws.