Controversial bills face action at Statehouse Tuesday, including Sunday alcohol sales

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INDIANAPOLIS (February 24, 2015) - Several big bills will face action at the Statehouse today, including Sunday alcohol sales.

House Bill 1624 is up for a final vote before the House. It's expected to be very close.

The bill would require big retailers to sell liquor behind the counter and to sell beer and wine in a designated part of the store. It would also ban self-checkout of alcohol.

Lawmakers have until Wednesday night to take the final vote in the House. If it passes, it still has to go before the Senate.

"It was essentially all concessions by the other retailers, no concessions by the liquor stores" said John Elliott, Indiana's Kroger spokesperson. "It was completely a liquor store wish list."

Matt Bell, Big Red Liquors spokesperson, said, "At the end of the day, the question is pretty simple; should it be easier in a grocery store to get Jack Daniels than it is to get shaved ham from a deli counter?"

House Bill 1624:
Sale of alcoholic beverages. Provides that a holder of an alcoholic beverage permit who is authorized by law to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout may sell alcoholic beverages for carryout on Sunday from 7 a.m., prevailing local time, until 3 a.m., prevailing local time, the following day. Requires alcoholic beverage sales in a drug store or grocery store to be rung up by a sales clerk and liquor in a drug store to be accessed by a sales clerk who: (1) has an employee permit; and (2) has alcohol server training. Provides that the provision that allows individuals who are at least 19 but less than 21 years of age to ring a sale of alcoholic beverages in the course of the individual's employment does not apply to dealer establishments. Makes it unlawful for: (1) the holder of a liquor dealer's permit, other than a package liquor store, to sell or distribute liquor through a self-service display; (2) the holder of a beer dealer's permit or wine dealer's permit to display beer or wine or beer and wine in more than one area or aisle of a licensed premises unless the alcohol is displayed in another partitioned area or room that is separate from other retail items for sale on the premises; and (3) a person who is the proprietor of a package liquor store, drug store, or grocery store to allow a purchaser, or any other person who is not a sales clerk, to ring up or otherwise record an alcoholic beverage sale. Establishes requirements and restrictions for certain drug stores or grocery stores and restaurants that are located in the same building.

Also up for the debate is Indy Eleven's request for a downtown soccer stadium. It has an $82 million price tag and would seat 18,000 people.

Indy Eleven says it will be paid for by sales and income taxes, along with revenue from the stadium.

One lawmaker plans to file an amendment for requiring approval from the City-County Council. Another lawmaker wants to team to guarantee half the debt on the project.

The team pushed for a stadium last year, but state lawmakers didn't approve it.

House Bill 1273:
Marion County economic development. Establishes an additional professional sports development area (APSDA) in Marion County. Requires the metropolitan development commission to establish a tax area before July 1, 2017, according to the procedures for the establishment of an economic development area. Authorizes capital improvements to be made. Provides that the APSDA may include the site or future site of a facility or complex of facilities that includes a hotel and multipurpose stadium. Requires participation in contracts for all capital improvements by minority, women and veteran owned business enterprises. Permits the adoption of a 10% Marion County admissions tax rate for any event held in the APSDA. Provides that, if adopted, the 10% admissions tax also applies to any event held in the existing professional sports development area through 2020, if soccer events are held in the existing professional sports development area. Allows up to $5,000,000 of state revenue to be captured each year, for 32 years, from the APSDA.

The religious freedom bill is scheduled to go before the Senate Tuesday. Supporters say the measures are needed to protect the rights of people with strong religious beliefs, including business owners who don't want insurance to cover abortions, or to provide services for gay weddings.

Opponents say the measures would result in discrimination.

Senate Bill 101:
Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law.

Abortion prohibitions also face the Senate Tuesday.

Senate Bill 334 would prohibit some procedures based on the reason for the abortion. It would make it illegal if a woman wants an abortion based solely on the baby's gender or if the baby has a disability.

Senate Bill 334:
Abortion prohibition based on sex or disability. Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of: (1) the sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability. Provides for: (1) disciplinary sanctions; and (2) civil liability for wrongful death and medical malpractice; if a person knowingly or intentionally performs a sex selective abortion or an abortion conducted because of a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability.

The House session starts at 10 a.m. and the Senate session starts at 10:30 a.m.