IN Focus: Ricker’s owner says he’s frustrated with state lawmakers

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INDIANAPOLIS - Lawmakers in the Senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow two Ricker's location to keep selling cold beer- for now.

House Bill 1496 prohibits a retailer from selling alcohol for carryout unless 60% of the retailer's income from the sale of alcohol comes from alcohol sold for on-premises consumption, with certain exceptions. The bill had amendments when the Senate approved it, meaning the bill now goes to a conference committee of lawmakers who will negotiate their differences.

Some Indiana senators expressed frustration with the bill.

"We’re trying to fix a problem that does not exist in my opinion," said Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville). "This is another knee-jerk reaction to something that has occurred because somebody did something we didn’t think they could."

The bill eventually passed the senate by a vote of 40-8.

The House was set to vote on a similar bill but members could not come to a consensus Thursday.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he hopes to resolve this issue in the next two weeks before the session ends. He said he is concerned about the Hoosier business owners who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their liquor licenses that are now being devalued.

Ricker's has gotten a lot of attention at the Statehouse this session when lawmakers learned two gas stations were selling cold beer after adding restaurants. The locations applied for and received permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to sell cold beer. Typically, gas stations are forbidden from doing so.

Company chairman Jay Ricker said earlier this week their food concept is well developed and they've spent millions of dollars installing the restaurants and doing renovations. In the process, he says a lot of jobs have been created.

Ricker's released this statement Thursday after the House measure did not come up for a vote:

"Despite the overwhelming public outcry for fairness and transparency regarding Ricker’s restaurants and reforming our state's liquor laws, the House inexplicably decided that Indiana should remain in the 1930s. The will of the people was thwarted today, and it is incumbent upon the leadership of the General Assembly to explain why.​"

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