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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 15, 2017 1:00 am

Alcohol panel in good hands

Hopes that the Indiana Alcohol Code Revision Commission will actually live up to its name and mission were buoyed this week.

Beverly Gard, selected to head the two-year study group, is a widely regarded former legislator used to dealing with tough questions. Gard, a Greenfield Republican, retired in 2012 after 24 years in the Indiana Senate. She was known as a principled, outspoken leader.

Her new role will demand every ounce of that quarter-century of experience. The commission's task is to navigate the maze of Indiana's alcohol code, preserving sensible rules but throwing out those that are archaic and/or contradictory. This year, the 11-member body will pore over the state's retail rules, hearing arguments on such divisive issues as cold beer and Sunday sales. Next year, the group will take on equally contentious questions about the way the state regulates distributors.

In addition to other legislators, the commission includes three state representatives from our area – Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn; Matt Lehman, R-Berne; and Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne – and two non-lawmakers who have previous experience working with the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

Almost everyone involved in the perennial alcohol debates agrees it is time for the broad questions to be wrestled to the ground and resolved.

Getting that done will take more than just good intentions, but the commission will start work with strong leadership and broad support.