Indiana C-Stores Still Fight for Cold Beer

Recent lawmaker affiliations are raising concerns about a conflict-of-interest, which won’t help the fight.
February 05, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - It’s been a decade-long battle for retailers to get lawmakers to expand cold beer sales in Indiana. Only last year did the liquor lobby drop the opposition to expanding Sunday carryout sales. According to the Indy Star, the grocery lobby agreed to stop advocating for cold beer sales as a result. They’re still keeping true to that promise. But the convenience store lobby is still pushing to allow cold beer in their stores.

This time around, the liquor lobby is slotted to win again—saying a bill to allow cold beer sales will die without a hearing. Another bill that would require grocery and drug store clerks to complete additional training to sell alcohol and regulate where alcohol can be displayed is also expected to die this year.

But two influential Indiana Republicans, Kyle Hupfer (the state GOP chairman) and Nate Feltman, have joined as minority partners with Indiana Liquor Group to purchase Save-on Liquor, a chain of 31 stores in north-central Indiana. It’s legal for party officials like Hupfer to have private investments in the Hoosier State. But now, there’s fear that lawmakers will vote in ways that help their own political allies and initiatives. The Indy Star reports that sources say, “the purchase will strengthen the liquor lobby, even if it’s unintentional.”

“Some people have access, probably unfairly, and I'm sure they (Hupfer and Feltman) have a lot of those relationships," said Rep. Justin Moed to the Indy Star. “I don't know how it will impact things moving forward, but it certainly was an interesting new development. We'll see how it plays out, but they certainly have relationships in this building the average person does not.”