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AP: Indiana Republican leaders agree to close cold beer loophole, vote on bill pending

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INDIANAPOLIS — Republican leaders in the Indiana Statehouse have reached agreement on a measure that appears to punish a convenience store owner who used a legal loophole to circumvent the state’s stringent law governing who can sell cold beer.

A copy of the legislation obtained Thursday by the Associated Press sets a bar so high that Jay Ricker, who started selling carryout cold beer at two of his Ricker’s convenience stores, says he will have to stop sales in April 2018.

In an interview with FOX59, Ricker says all external and internal polling indicated most Hoosiers support allowing Ricker’s and similar convenience stores to utilize the loophole as it stands.

He’s frustrated lawmakers didn’t side with them.

“I think that a lot of the legislators, especially some of the leadership, are not doing what their constituents want,” said Ricker.

Ricker blames the liquor lobby, who he says funds the lawmakers’ campaigns and will now have even more power over the market.

“The liquor lobby has way too much influence, they’ve held it for years and years. It’s been a legal monopoly. To be beholden to such a small group of people, it’s about 500 and some owners, that own all the liquor stores in the state of Indiana, and there are millions of people in our state.”

Package liquor stores and restaurants can sell cold beer, but gas stations and convenience stores are prohibited.

Ricker worked around it by installing seating and serving burritos, landing a restaurant classification — and the right to sell cold beer.

The Indiana House and Senate must still vote on the bill.