The 2016 Indiana General Assembly session saw activity in all vice related industries: alcohol, tobacco and gambling (oops! – not really gambling), as well as firearms.

Alcohol

All of the alcohol related bills that were passed during this past session related to small glitches in the law or local concerns. By the end of the session, all of the alcohol bills were combined into HB 1386.

Among its many provisions, HB 1386 allowed artisan distillers to sell liquor on Sunday and to participate in trade shows and expositions. It authorized the Indianapolis 500 to produce and sell 100-year commemorative bottles of liquor or wine for patrons to carry off site. HB 1386 also authorized one additional three-way license in a Motorsport Investment District and authorized four additional three-way licenses for Whitestown, Lebanon, Zionsville, Westfield, Carmel and Fishers. In addition, the bill cleaned up certain provisions dealing with microbreweries.

The most significant and hotly contested provision of HB 1386 authorized the Department of Natural Resources to apply for a three-way permit for a state park. In that instance, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) is statutorily required to issue the permit without publication of notice or investigation before a local board and without regard to existing quota provisions.

This provision was sought after denial by the ATC of a three-way permit for the Pavilion in Dunes State Park. Environmentalists protested the commercial development of the park, while the proposed developer of the Pavilion claimed the remonstration against the issuance of the permit was politically motivated.

Tobacco

HB 1386 also contained language affecting distribution of e-liquids used in electronic cigarettes. The provisions of the bill required “vape shops” that make their own liquids to have a certified “clean room” where the ingredients are mixed. The bill also required e-liquid makers to hire a specific kind of security company with specially certified employees and to enter into an agreement with the security company for five years. Many thought the legislation established a monopoly for one existing Indiana company.

Existing “vape shop” owners chaffed at the new regulations and promised to either defy the law or move out of state. Proponents of the new regulations stated the regulations were necessary to guarantee the safety of the product to authorized users and to help control the unregulated distribution of e-liquids to minors.

Firearms

Four high-profile firearms bills were introduced during the 2016 session intending to liberalize the ability to purchase and carry guns.

  1. SB 36 would have removed restrictions in state law that keep “alcohol abusers” from being able to get licenses to carry concealed guns.
  2. SB 259 would have allowed employees of the Indiana General Assembly to carry guns in the state capital if those employees had a concealed carry permit.
  3. HB 1055 would have permitted individuals to carry guns on state property, including public colleges and universities. 
  4. HB 1056 would have completely eliminated the requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit. 

While both SB 36 and SB 259 passed the Senate, the House did not give either bill a hearing. In addition, neither HB 1055 nor HB 1056 were given hearings.

On the other side of the ledger, HB 1149 would have mandated that in the instance of the private sale of a gun, a receipt would have to be created identifying the purchaser and seller, the date of sale and the serial number of the gun. HB 1149 was not given a hearing in the House.

Gambling/Not-Gambling?

In response to increased scrutiny by the federal government and several state attorneys general, the leading companies promoting paid Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) began a nationwide effort to legalize paid DFS in several states, including Indiana. Identical bills were filed in the House and Senate. Each bill would have had paid DFS regulated by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission under a scheme that would have allowed the paid DFS sites to simply assure the commission they were complying with certain broad, self-imposed standards. The most important provision in the bill was that paid DFS “does not constitute gambling for any purpose.”

The House version of the bill died in committee. However, the Senate passed SB 339 and sent it over to the House for consideration. The House Public Policy Committee amended SB 339 and gave regulation of paid DFS to the Indiana Gaming Commission since that commission also regulated other non-gambling related activities such as boxing. The commission was given certain powers and duties for the purposes of administering, regulating and enforcing paid DFS. The application fee for a DFS operator was increased from $5,000 to $50,000. The bill also created a study committee to determine whether additional regulation of paid DFS was required — the taxation of paid DFS and the interception of past due taxes and child support owed by paid DFS game players.

An additional study committee was created in SB 323 to study (1) the impact of gaming taxes on the local units; (2) the impact of gaming taxes on competitiveness of the Indiana gaming facilities; (3) the impact of supplemental distributions on the ability to provide a flexible regulatory environment; and (4) whether the riverboat/racino owners and operating agents should be exempt from adding back wagering taxes when determining their Indiana adjusted gross income for income tax purposes.