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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - More on: "Dunes pavilion alcohol passes House, headed to Pence"

Updating this ILB post from yesterday, here is another story, this one from Amy Lavalley of the Gary Post-Tribune (as reprinted in the Indiana Economic Digest). Some interesting quotes:

Democrats from Lake and Porter counties in the Indiana House of Representatives made impassioned though futile pleas Monday while waving a petition with almost 10,000 signatures against privatizing the pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park and serving liquor there.

What the bill's sponsors wanted was a provision for state parks to receive liquor permits without local input, which presumably would pave the way for a liquor license for the pavilion, to once again be a bill that would be weighed on its own merits and not rolled into one touching on a wide array of topics, from e-cigarettes to carry-outs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The House voted 63-30 to approve it as it is, and its next stop is expected to be the desk of Gov. Mike Pence for his consideration.

For Dunes Action, the grass-roots group that collected the signatures and opposes Pavilion Partners' plans for the liquor license and a banquet center adjacent to pavilion, the House's vote was not unexpected.

Still, Desi Robertson, one of the group's co-founders, said Dunes Action was heartened that it had some impact.

"It was really great to see some of those legislators really listened to the people. We changed some minds," she said.

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who earlier supported the measure, said Monday an assortment of things changed his mind, including Porter County residents who contacted him because they didn't realize he was no longer their state representative and Lake County residents who said they loved the pristine nature of the park.

Brown said he has learned that, while Indiana Department of Natural Resources representatives have said the park is used only three months of the year, that's not the case, and he also was misinformed when he was told the banquet center wouldn't be a big building.

"Now I'm hearing that is not necessarily the truth," he said of the proposed 17,000-square-foot structure.

Representatives from as far away as Evansville said they could not support the measure in its offered form, and several representatives argued there was enough time left in the session to pull out the portion involving the state parks for a separate vote.

The bill would directly benefit someone they could identify, said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, without naming Pavilion Partners, which has a public/private partnership with the DNR for the project.

"It's not often we approve a bill and know who's pocket it's going to put money in," he said.

One of the reasons House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said he opposed the bill was not just the provision allowing state parks to apply for the licenses, but that Pavilion Partners was getting an override after the Porter County and state liquor boards denied their permit application.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 9, 2016 10:10 AM
Posted to Indiana Government