Store owner finds burrito loophole in Indiana's quirky rules about beer – The Denver Post

By BRIAN SLODYSKO, The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana law allows someone to walk out of a convenience store and crack open a beer purchased there, but it can’t be a cold one.

Decades-old rules, closely guarded by elected officials who receive generous donations from the liquor store lobby, strictly manage who can sell “iced or cooled” beer for carryout.

It’s a right granted to package liquor stores and restaurants but denied gas stations and convenience stores — that is, until one gas station owner discovered a loophole. He installed seating and served burritos, landing a restaurant classification and the right to sell cold beer.

The maneuver has ignited a fierce legislative battle, with some of the state’s most powerful lawmakers scrambling to pass legislation to close the loophole, underscoring the liquor lobby’s clout.

“It’s crazy,” said Jay Ricker, who created the uproar by serving Mexican fare and securing the proper alcohol permits at two of his Ricker’s stores. “It points out the absurdity of the current regulations.”

Liquor stores say they are protecting what’s theirs, with store permits auctioning for as much as $500,000. But their influence extends beyond preserving cold beer rights. They played a major role in torpedoing a 2015 effort to repeal a Prohibition-era ban on Sunday alcohol sales, arguing it would unfairly benefit grocery stores.

An Associated Press review found liquor store interests have spent at least $150,000 on lobbying in recent years while donating more than $750,000 to lawmakers since 2010.

Operators of three prominent liquor stores were also poised to benefit financially from a stringent vaping industry law that lawmakers approved last year, records show. The law, it was later discovered, effectively created a monopoly for a handful of politically connected companies and sparked an FBI investigation.

“Our owners, many multigenerational, are active

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