INDIANAPOLIS ― A former local state senator will lead a legislative committee studying Indiana’s alcohol laws that some say are outdated.
Former state Sen. Beverly Gard of Greenfield was selected this week by Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, to chair the Alcohol Code Revision Commission.
The commission was established by the Indiana General Assembly’s legislative council this year after two Indiana Ricker’s stores discovered a loophole in state law that allowed convenience stores with a restaurant operating inside to obtain permits to sell cold beer, including carryout, causing controversy in the industry.
Members will also discuss the decades-old debate to legalize carry-out sales on Sunday. For years, lawmakers have taken turns penning legislation to allow Sunday alcohol sales, but so far, a majority hasn’t been swayed to change the law. This year, Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, who represents a portion of Hancock County, drafted a bill that ultimately failed to allow Sunday sales.
Once the council has reviewed all of Indiana’s alcohol laws, members will be asked to submit recommendations for change to the General Assembly. Recommendations made by commissions assigned to studying highly debated issues often become law.
The commission will divide its work over two years.
The 17-member committee comprises state lawmakers and non-legislators, including excise police and former members of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Members can’t have a stake in or a connection to the alcohol industry, lawmakers decided.
Once the commission’s remaining members are appointed, Gard, a Republican, will work with the members to schedule the commission’s meetings, which will be open to the public.
Gard retired from the Indiana Senate in 2012 after 24 years of service representing Hancock County.
Her past experience leading legislative committees includes her time spent as chairwoman of the Senate’s energy and environmental affairs and the governmental and regulatory affairs committees.
Most recently, she was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to lead the Indiana Environmental Rules Board.
“Bev Gard is a nationally respected former state legislator who brings a wealth of experience in public service to this important role,” Long said in a statement. “She is fair-minded and has proven herself to be a smart, effective leader during her extensive service in the Indiana Senate and in several important public roles since leaving office.”
Gard said she’s honored to serve the state in a new capacity after retiring from politics nearly five years ago.
She said she’ll be unbiased in reviewing current laws and pursuing change.
“I’m hopeful the work we do will result in common-sense reforms that promote public safety and benefit all Hoosiers,” she said in a press statement.